Reading daily predicts reduced mortality among men from a cohort of community-dwelling 70-year-olds


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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci.2008 Mar;63(2):S73-80.

Jacobs JM1, Hammerman-Rozenberg R, Cohen A, Stessman J.



Although social and physical components of leisure activity have proven beneficial to successful aging, the influence of solitary and nonstrenuous activity on subsequent aging is unclear. This study examined reading activity to investigate the relationship of a solitary, nonstrenuous activity on aging and mortality.


A cohort of visually and cognitively intact community-dwelling participants born in 1920-1921, taken from the Jerusalem Longitudinal Study, underwent comprehensive assessment at ages 70 and 78. We collected mortality data spanning 8 years. We dichotomized reading frequency to daily or less and performed data analyses separately by gender.


Reading daily was common at both ages 70 (62% of the sample) and 78 (68%) and was associated at baseline with female gender, Western origin, higher socioeconomic and educational statuses, employment, and reduced medications. The hazard ratio for mortality over the 8-year follow-up among men was significantly reduced (hazard ratio = 0.44, 95% confidence interval = 0.23-0.84) after we adjusted for numerous social, medical, and health parameters.


The findings suggest that leisure activities devoid of social or physical benefits may nonetheless contribute to improved aging, predicting reduced mortality among men. A broader definition of leisure activities may be useful when considering the impact of these activities among older people.