What can you accomplish in a month? According to science, that’s all it takes to start forming a new habit, and good habits lead to good results. That’s the goal behind our Monthly Challenge, to help you form the right habits – physically and mentally – to make significant strides toward your best, healthiest self. “Who reads anymore?...” According to the American Academy of Arts & Science, the percentage of American adults who read at least one book for pleasure in the previous year fell below 53% in 2017, the lowest level on record. In addition, the average time Americans spend reading per day has also been steadily declining. Obviously, that doesn’t include news articles, blogs like this one, and other digital writing, but still, it’s an alarming trend. Unfortunately, it’s also an unhealthy one. Studies show that reading for at least 20 minutes each day sharpens a variety of skills that are valuable in the workforce and life, including memory retention, social-emotional skills, and critical thinking. Those who read tend to exhibit more empathy towards others (something badly needed in our world). It also helps us learn about our and others’ worlds, understand varying perspectives, be more creative, and think more critically. It can be a welcome distraction at times, allowing you to destress and thus improve your mental health. Heck, it can even make your bank account healthier, as 88% of financially successful people say they read at least 30 minutes a day. Need another motivator? How about your kids (if you have them). Some studies show that even reading to them for 20 minutes a day, they will hear approximately 1.8 million words a year. And students who were read to and read themselves regularly and widely perform better on all school-based measures of success. Of course, what you read is also important. We want you to start good new habits. So steer clear of the latest gossip about a celebrity or random click bait on social media like you would junk food.
The challenge: Read 10 pages or 20 minutes a dayFirst, let’s address the elephant in the room because if you’ve been following our Monthly Challenge series, this challenge seems to go against last month’s one about walking and moving more. After all, reading a book and walking rarely go hand in hand. … but they can. Instead of listening to music the next time you step on a treadmill or stationary bike, crack open a book. Or listen to an audiobook (it still counts as reading). And even if you don’t want to do that, carving out 20 minutes to get lost in a book shouldn’t come at a detriment to your walking. After all, even if you’re hitting your 10,000 steps, you’ll still have to sit towards the end of the day. Take that time to leave the TV off and instead read. Again, it’s all about habits, and any habit that gets away from a screen and turns on your brain is a good one.
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