Books Healthy living

Your Weekly Motivation

Thursday, March 13, 2014 Sophie Magdalena

Lets try something new, shall we? Lets break out of our monotonous routine that has us hitting snooze until 6:55 and stopping by the same cafĂ© every morning for our regular two dollar small brew with room.  Lets change things up.

Change can be terrifying. Like your first day at the new job— you weren’t sure how you managed to convince those people into hiring you; you didn’t know any of the company’s procedures; and had yet to develop any friendships with your new coworkers. However, you’ve come so far since that day, right? You probably have lunch with Kathy at that restaurant around the corner every Thursday now. You’ve grown so much since then.

Change can be challenging but like most challenges, it can strengthen, motivate and inspire us.  The kind of change I’m suggesting here is simple— nothing more than turning off your television or unplugging from social media, just for an hour— calm down. 

I’m talking about swapping. Swap one thing for another. I’m going to pretend for now, that you already physically exert yourself either at the gym or on some other fitness platform.  But as you can imagine being healthy isn’t all about being physically fit. Exercising the mind is a key component to a healthy life.

Go on, open your dusty old e-book app on your tablet and find something of interest to you. Hopefully, it’s something insightful, something above a 5th grade reading level and something promising to hold your attention.  Now read. Why? Because reading has major health benefits.

The physical act of reading typically includes a cozy chair, a warm cup of coffee and an opportunity to escape from everyday stressors.  In a study performed at Mindlab International at the University of Sussex, research showed that reading significantly reduces stress. 

Participants performed fitness exercises before scientists tested various relaxation methods such as drinking hot tea, listening to music, walking and even playing video games.  Reading, however, out ranked these traditional approaches.  Within six minutes of reading participants reduced their stress levels by 68%.

By reading, I mean travel to an exotic location, lay on the beach and use a book to shield your face from the sun. 

Study researcher Dr. David Lewis concluded that, “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.” I couldn’t agree more.

Preserve Memory
In a study administered at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, 294 participants were tested for roughly six years up until their death, roughly 89 years old.  Members documented their reading frequency.  Once deceased, their brains were studied for signs of dementia and other related syndromes. Alarmingly the study showed that those participants who had regularly cognitive activity (i.e. reading) in their early and later years of life resulted in a slower mental decline, contrary to their peers who did not.  

Research author Dr. Robert S. Wilson stated, “Based on this, we shouldn’t underestimate the effects of everyday activities, such as reading and writing, on our children, ourselves and our parents or grandparents.”

Lets be honest, you know that if you don’t squander away hours skimming through your Instagram you’ll probably end up victim to a Law and Order marathon. Turn it off. If these studies aren’t reason enough to crack open a book, I urge you to read for the sheer thrill of changing your schedule. Make a little time for you.
If you're like me and prefer the satisfaction of turning crisp pages, head to one of these local bookstores: 

Quimby's. In search of something rare and peculiar? This little hipster hot spot boasts itself on providing locally exclusive, “unusual publications.”

Powells.  With three convenient Chicago locations, you can browse through an assortment of genres including textbooks.

Myopic.  As one of the largest (and oldest) bookstores in Chicago, Myopic is a prominent figure in Wicker Park. With 3 floors housing roughly 80,000 editions, you are pretty much guaranteed to find something to your liking.

- Samantha Kirkpatrick 
Lifestyle and Fitness Blogger 

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