The Surprisingly Similar Health Benefits of Reading and Travel
One of my favourite things to do is forage through book stores.
Second hand book stores are the best, the kind that house books owned by different readers for brief amounts of time sit waiting for fresh eyes to choose them from the others like puppies at the SPCA.
There are real gems to be found between musty smelling hardbacks and worn copies of Danielle Steel. When I found a wrapped copy of Steve McCurrys On Reading at my favourite book store last week, I whipped it off the shelf before the old lady browsing Edmonds books in the cooking aisle got a whiff of my find.
They say a good book’s a page-turner, but this compilation of photographs depicting reading and travel (two of my favorite things) stopped me at every page.
From thumbing pages on a graffitied subway in New York to reading on the back of a bright red Vespa in Italy, each photograph captures people amid escapism.
It reminded me that alongside taking us to places we’ve never been, both reading and travel are good for our health.
As both The Telegraph and The New Yorker explain, the act of ‘getting away from it all’, whether literally or figuratively, lowers stress levels in the body - proving what we’ve all known for years; teaming a good book with a beach island holiday is one of the best recipes for all over relaxation as well as a tan.
It’s been proven that as well as opening our inner worlds to new things, reading and travel help keep the brain and mind flexible by encouraging the development of new neural pathways as well as ideas.
It becomes easier to conjure up ‘impossibilities’ when we know from experience that stranger things exist.
Once we’ve tasted exotic herbs and spices we feel a little freer to dabble in our own kitchens, concocting dishes with aromas that at one time were new to us but now bring back memories of crowded markets and local eateries.
Reading that whale sharks are not really sharks at all but the largest fish in the sea leads to imagining what it would be like to snorkel through warm waters next to one.
Before we know it, we’re planning a trip to Mexico.
It seems that globe-trotting and page turning feed our minds like a whole foods diet fuels our body.
With the persistent dings, beeps and clicks vying for our attention in what can feel like every moment of the day, choosing the places we go both physically and mentally seens a good idea.
If we can’t get on the plane until our pre-booked winter break, we can fly through the page turner we found in our favourite bookstore instead.
Unless of course we have the luxury of limitless time.
Then we can pick up any book on the bestseller shelf in DFS after we’ve booked a ticket at the airport for the next departure and let both be a healthy surprise.