In addition to having something enjoyable to do on your free time, hobbies may have many health rewards! Many activities improve overall wellness while others may prevent specific health concerns. To get your wheels turning about which hobbies will enrich your life and improve your health, here are five unique activities you should consider weaving into your daily schedule:
Any activity that repetitively puts your hands to work may help relieve stress. Coloring can be viewed as a therapeutic activity, leading to several mental health benefits. A study in the Western Journal of Medicine determined that using art as therapy has the potential to treat depression in adolescents because the activity is a creative release which may help them express their feelings in a healthy manner. Other studies have found art and creative projects like coloring to have healing benefits similar to meditation.
Health perks will come along with the sense of success and awareness that you have done something worthwhile for others. Giving back through services and monetary donations has been linked to the reduction of many health concerns such as lowering blood pressure and stress. Volunteering time and donating money is even related to a longer lifespan. In fact, a study in the American Journal of Public Health reveals that people who provide acts of generosity are more likely to have lower stress levels. However, participants who did not give back as often increased their chance of dying after an intense or stressful life event by 30%. Generous community members can also reap short-term benefits. One study showed that donating money activates the same exact brain pleasure-centers as spending money.
By doing leisurely activities like taking time off work or going on vacation, you can reduce your risk of depression and heart attack. A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine claims that participating in pleasure and leisure activities can reduce stress hormones and blood pressure levels. Research has shown that visiting a stunning place or traveling the world elicits feelings of awe which has the potential to decrease your risk of cancer or heart disease.
Picking up a book has many different emotional and cognitive benefits for a variety of health conditions and age groups. A study proved that depressed mental health patients had positive improvements when they were read stories. Children may see positive results from reading in their school work and grades. Reading consistently allows children to grasp abstract concepts in the classroom, apply logic, and recognize cause and effect. Not to mention, reading a children's book exposes the child to 50% more words than a television, setting the stage for a more extensive vocabulary at a young age. Also, elderly patients who read books on a regular basis are two and a half times less likely to develop Alzheimer's down the road.
General health rewards come along with reading stories, as well. They can help with sleep patterns, overall mood, and well-being. Research shows that reading may reduce stress levels by approximately 68%. Books also bring existing neural pathways in the brain to life and decrease mental decline in your brain as you age. Making time to read advanced poetry will help keep your mind challenged, elastic, and active. Lastly, reading as a bedtime ritual will signal the brain that it is time to wind down and go to sleep.
Playing an instrument
Doesn't it feel great when you learn a new skill? Studies show that making progress while leaning a new instrument will help you feel good about yourself. Feeling good about yourself decreases anxiety and increases motivation. Just like coloring, playing an instrument also promotes creativity, a way to boost happiness and decrease depression levels.
Your listening skills, coordination, and concentration will also improve. If sheet music is used, your reading skills and math skills will sharpen. If you learn an instrument that requires a mouthpiece, you have to learn to breathe correctly to master the wind instrument. Breathing will come second nature with practice, strengthening the respiratory system.
Adding hobbies like coloring, traveling, playing an instrument, reading, and volunteering into your lifestyle will increase your overall health. Other activity-specific rewards may arise such as an improved respiratory system from playing an instrument or decreasing your risk for high blood pressure by traveling more often. Finding an extra-curricular activity you love will undoubtedly reveal positive health benefits!