The health benefits of reading

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(CNN) -- If you want to stay mentally fit reduce stress and have better relationships, try picking up a book.

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Studies indicate reading can improve your life in many ways.

Reading can keep your brain sharp and youthful.

Studies have shown reading exercises the brain in a way viewing images does not.

Reading can slow age related cognitive decline.

One study published by the National Academy of Sciences showed that older adults who read regularly or played mentally challenging games were two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease.

Reading can help control stress.

A study by the University of Sussex in England found that reading can help lower stress levels.

Reading can also improve social skills and relationships with others.

Many studies have linked reading fiction to better performance on empathy and social awareness tests.

In one survey, participants were given a test designed to measure empathy and another that gauged ability to interpret the mental states of others.

Participants who read a lot of fiction scored far higher on measurements of social awareness.