3 Science-Backed Reasons to Have a Hobby

Ever get asked, “What do you like to do for fun?” or “What kind of hobbies are you into?” and been at a loss for words? It’s understandable! Finding time to balance work, family and friends and still get in some “me time” is no easy task. On top of that, it can be hard to figure out what kind of hobby you should even have.

Try to think of things that you enjoy or have an interest in – go back to when you were a kid and remember what you used to do when you had a completely free afternoon. There’s no limit to how many hobbies you can have, so give a few a shot and see what feels the most fun. If you still need more convincing, research shows that having a hobby may improve lots of different areas of your life, such as:

  1. Improved mental health. Researchers have found that those who engaged in hobbies more frequently reported feeling happier and had lower levels of depression and negative emotions.
  2. Better physical health. A deep look at four different studies found that the more frequently participants engaged in enjoyable activities outside of work, the lower their blood pressure, stress hormone levels, Body Mass Index and waist circumference.
  3. Improved work performance. A study found that professionals who frequently participated in hobbies outside of work experience less burnout and anxiety. Additionally, these same people had higher work satisfaction and self-esteem.

To get you going, here are some hobby ideas to check out:

  • Learn a second language. Mastering a second language is not only cool, it also can improve your memory, delay cognitive declines, strengthen your ability to multitask and improve your native language. Check out your local community center or online programs to find lessons for beginners.
  • Prepare for a 5K. Even if you’re not a huge fan of running, this can be a fun group activity to do alone or with your friends. You can start a runners club or join one in your area! It’s a great way to get out and meet people, while committing to your distance running goals.
  • Take up dancing. Not only is dancing fun, it also has many health benefits even beyond the physical aspect. Research shows that dancing can lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, lower your stress and anxiety, help you become more creative and boost your self-esteem!
  • Get lost reading. Good books are fun to read and they keep your mind active while you follow multiple storylines. Reading can also help your brain relax from the daily bothers of life and it can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Join an adult sports league. This is a great way to make new friends, stay fit and set an example for the kids in your life. There are so many options too, like broomball, bowling, kickball, softball, basketball and more. Check your local community center or adult sports league organization in your area to get started.
  • Journal. If you’re looking for a less intensive hobby, journaling may be for you. The beauty is that your journal can be whatever you want it to be – there are no rules! Even better, journaling has been shown to reduce stress and help cope with emotional trauma.

Look for group classes or clubs at your local community center or on websites like Meetup to find something that speaks to you. Do you have a favorite hobby or club? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. I started hiking about 4 yrs ago when I saw a flyer advertising a weeklong hiking camp in the Adirondacks. After coming back from that, I joined 2 hiking meetup groups near me and usually go on a hike 2-3 times/ week and have met many new friends.

  2. Wow, I didn’t know that lower levels of depression and happier feelings were results of having a hobby. My wife was diagnosed with depression about a month ago and I’ve been trying to find ways to help her out. I’ll see what her psychiatrist has to say about getting my wife involved in some sort of hobby. Thank you for this helpful information on how hobbies benefit mental health.

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