For most of us, our hobbies are an essential part of our personal lives, but did you know that they can also benefit our mental and physical health?
Hobbies allow us to use our free time in satisfying and productive ways, and our core identity is often tied to the interests we choose to pursue when we are not working, sleeping, or spending time with people. who are dear to us. Of course, most of us pursue a hobby because we enjoy it. But, as you’ll discover, your hobby can be more than just fun.
This article discusses five hobbies that could boost your morale and health.
Dance: A fun form of exercise
Dancing has a whole host of health benefits and is an easy and accessible way to exercise for most people. Think about it: you don’t need a lot of equipment to dance, just your feet, some tunes and, preferably, a friend or two.
The dance is gentle on the body, you can push yourself as hard as you want or settle into a comfortable rhythm that suits you perfectly. And everyone can dance!
Dancing is a great form of exercise and fun!
Even if you don’t dare let loose on the dance floor, everyone likes to move their body to the sound of music, even if it’s in the comfort of their own home. There is no right or wrong way to dance. Do what makes you feel good! Dancing is a social activity, and we know that staying socially active is important for overall well-being. It’s a painless and energizing workout.
But how does dancing keep us healthy?
First of all, dancing is great cardio exercise, and we know that cardio exercise helps improve cardiovascular health, increase endurance, and build strong bones and muscles.
A 2011 Cochrane Review, which looked at 94 studies involving 9,917 participants, also found that dancing, at least three times a week, seemed to improve balance in older adults.
Death rates from unintentional falls in adults are also increasing. So if something as simple as dancing can help prevent some of those unintentional falls, why not dance? Dancing is also beneficial for brain health. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports a link between regular outings and a 76% reduction in the risk of dementia.
Gardening is good for the brain
Gardening may not seem like physical exercise, but studies have shown that garden maintenance provides a host of unexpected health benefits. First, the simple act of pulling weeds, planting and grabbing tools contributes to a subtle form of aerobic exercise, which we know works muscles and builds strength, endurance and flexibility.
Gardening has been linked to a decreased risk of dementia
Plus, being outdoors is simply good for your health. A 2014 study published in PLOS One found that gardening and regular cycling reduce the likelihood of vitamin D deficiency in older adults. There is also a link between lower risk of dementia and gardening, with one study reporting a 36% reduced risk of dementia in people who garden every day. Gardening and DIY were also associated with a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke of up to 30% in a 2013 study by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
Writing: A Wonder for Wound Healing
Sitting at a desk with a laptop or pen and paper can’t be healthy? Prepare to be shocked. Writing has been linked to a number of mental and physical health benefits, including improved memory, stress levels, and sleep, among others. Several studies, for example, have shown that writing about their experiences helps cancer patients come to terms with their disease, which helps them cope with stress and can help improve their health.
An intriguing study by researchers at the University of Auckland in New Zealand even investigated whether handwriting could affect the speed of wound healing. The researchers asked one group of participants to write for 20 minutes a day about their most traumatic life experience, and another group to write for the same amount of time each day about their plans for the next day. Two weeks after the first day of writing, small skin biopsies were taken from the participants. The researchers then photographed the wounds every 3 to 5 days until they healed. They found that 11 days after the biopsy, 76% of the wounds in the group of participants who wrote about the trauma had healed, while in the group of participants who wrote about their daily plans, only 42% of the wounds had healed.
Overall, writing is a great tool for self-expression, and while journaling about trauma can be cathartic, writing for an audience can also have social benefits. Blogs, for example, can help people form new relationships and build communities around their interests.
music is medicine
Playing and listening to music can also benefit mental and physical health.
Listening to music can help reduce stress levels. The study suggests that music can boost the body’s immune system, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and alleviate depression. In patients awaiting surgery, listening to music has been shown to be more effective in reducing anxiety than prescribed medications, and listening to and playing music has been associated with lower cortisol levels, the “stress hormone”.
To get an idea of how aroused our brains are to music, a 2011 study also compared the brain’s reaction to music to its reactions to food and sex, the pleasurable feelings derived from these three activities being due to the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter.
Pets: good for the heart
Pets of all kinds can be wonderful companions, and they can help us be healthier in so many ways.
Owning a pet can not only provide opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization, but also help reduce heart risks:
Pets can benefit heart health, studies show, including:
the feeling of loneliness.
If you’re wondering how this can translate into broader health benefits, it’s worth keeping in mind that all of these factors can help minimize the risk of a heart attack.
Owning a pet, particularly a dog, is likely associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. It may be that the healthiest people are those who own a pet, not that having a pet leads to or causes a reduction in cardiovascular risk.
If you have a regular hobby that you enjoy, why not think about how you could apply your activities related to that hobby to improve your health?
And if you’re considering taking up a new hobby, we hope this article has given you some ideas for getting healthier while having fun!