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Reading can help reduce stress, according to University of Sussex research
Reading The Argus has plenty of benefits.
From catching up on issues affecting Sussex and Brighton and Hove Albion, finding a job and looking at what’s on at cinemas and theatres across the county, thousands of people pick the newspaper up everyday.
But now there is an even more important reason to pick up the paper.
New research has revealed that reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds.
And the findings by the University of Sussex show that reading a newspaper or book works better and faster than listening to music, going for a walk or sitting down with a cup of tea to calm frazzled nerves.
Psychologists say this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.
The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.
Their stress levels and heart rate were increased through a range of tests and exercises before they were then tested with a variety of traditional methods of relaxation.
Reading worked best, reducing stress levels by 68 per cent, said cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis.
He found that subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles.
It actually got subjects to stress levels lower than before they started.
Listening to music reduced the levels by 61%, having a cup of tea or coffee lowered them by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.
Playing video games brought them down by 21% from their highest level but still left the volunteers with heart rates above their starting point.
Dr Lewis said: "Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.
"This is particularly poignant in uncertain economic times when we are all craving a certain amount of escapism.
"It really doesn't matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination.
"This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness."
The research was commissioned by Galaxy chocolate to launch a campaign to give away one million books over the next six months.
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