Hobbies exist to enrich personal lives and give you something to do with your free time besides occupying the couch in potato form. Whether you feel stressed or bored, people tell you to get a hobby. While you may roll your eyes at first, it’s time to reconsider the importance of having a hobby in your life.
Did you know some activities can also improve your overall wellness? Check out this list of hobbies with health benefits. You can take up any of these activities to enrich your life while also boosting your health.
As a hobby, dance is more accessible than you think. Give blues or a bachata a try — the basics are simple. Some football players even take ballet to improve their balance, focus and precision on the field.
Aside from burning hundreds of calories, social dancing can improve your health in a variety of ways. Dance communicates, but it also exercises your cardiovascular and muscular systems, along with your brain by improving your cognitive flexibility and ability to de-stress using the endorphins released by the rhythmic beat and movement. The most improvements participants witnessed were in classes that focused less on perfection and more on how the actions feel to everyone individually.
Learning a New Language
Being bilingual slows the aging process of the brain. A 2014 study out of the University of Edinburgh utilized testing data of 262 language learning participants who were 11 years old to determine how their mental abilities had changed or developed by the time they were in their 70s. The now senior participants stated they were able to communicate in more than one language.
Millions of people around the world acquire a second language from an older age rather than a young age, and the study revealed bilingualism is a critical factor in enriching your worldview and your health. Whether you want to learn a new language at age seven or 70, research shows it will positively affect your brain at any stage in life.
Getting your hands dirty exposes you to the vitamin D and healthy microbes in the soil. In one study, those who gardened for 30 minutes experienced a mood boost over those who read, and those who don’t have many opportunities to socialize reported lessened feelings of loneliness and isolation when working in the garden.
Whether you experience physical limitations or not, there’s a garden for every person — even those who think they kill every plant they touch. Try cultivating an indoor garden with shade-friendly shrubs, such as calla lilies, or start an herb or succulent garden. Many succulents don’t require much attention, preferring dry soil and little sun.
Sometimes you wish you had someone to talk to, but you don’t feel ready to speak up about the issue bothering you. Whether you prefer a keyboard or a pen, use the power of expressive writing to improve your health. In one study, 49 adults between the ages of 64 and 97 wrote about their troubles or daily routines.
Two weeks after they started the writing process, researchers pricked participants’ upper arms and monitored the healing process alongside the two writing methods — 80 percent of expressive writing participants fully healed, compared with those who only wrote about their daily routine. Expressive writing helps you process thoughts and emotions while also boosting your immune system.
Giving back to others makes you feel good, too. In one study, Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest gains new insight — people working and living together in a community depend on one another to survive overall.
Acting on altruism improves your chances at leading a long, healthy life. Of 2000 residents who volunteered with two or more causes, 63 percent possessed a lower rate of mortality. The catch is that your motivation has to be heartfelt.
Do you have a talent or skill you’d like to share with others? Have you fallen in challenging times and want to give back? Now’s the time to pay it forward. Tutor kids after school. Stay overnight at a homeless shelter. Foster a pet. Your stress levels will drop due to your genuine altruism, and you’ll lead a longer life.
Owning a Pet
Your household pet is a member of your family, as well as a best friend. Residing with a pet provides a host of health benefits. Pets reduce anxiety and blood pressure levels, and having a dog in the home reduces animal allergies by 19 to 33 percent in infants. Aging patients also express less anxious outbursts when they have a pet in the house.
Are you a fan of nature? Spending time in the woods with the sounds of nature is incredibly beneficial for you. In the 80s, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries named the benefits of walking in nature “shinrin-yoku,” or forest-bathing.
When you forest bathe, you breathe in phytoncides, which boosts the immune system. Phytoncides are airborne chemicals given off by plants to protect from insects. Forest bathing, or nature hiking, also reduces blood pressure and stress.
Reading daily benefits your brain, and opting for books over newspapers encourages in-depth reading, which is the most efficient way to earn those health benefits. As you make connections while reading, your brain makes new links, too. These neural networks promote faster thinking and defend against cognitive decay.
Playing an Instrument
Playing an instrument reduces the effects of anxiety and depression and boosts happiness and creativity while improving verbal and visual skills. The progress you make while learning a new instrument also helps you feel good about yourself.
Yoga boosts your physical and mental prowess. No matter your fitness level, yoga increases muscle strength and improves your metabolism. With more than 100 forms of yoga, each asana targets specific muscle groups. You will also develop your respiration and balance.
From social dancing to yoga, these 10 pastimes will improve your life and health. Taking on a hobby will give you a new skill set to be proud of and a new lease on life.