Making Time for Joy: Hobbies That Boost Wellness
So, growing up, one thing I remember about my home was that being mature was not only appreciated, it was expected.
My hard working parents, weren't necessarily against fun, but let's just say it wasn't a priority. Now, as an advocate for both physical and emotional health and wellness, I know the perks of doing stuff just for fun.
I remember the episode of The Cosby Show when Claire grew her prize winning squash. You'd think a high powered lawyer would despise dirt, but her character enjoyed the benefit of being one with nature and watching things grow. The wonderful aspect of gardening is that it provides you with physical activity, while you spend time out in the sunshine to enjoy your day. It might just seem like a hobby, but gardening offers health benefits: exercise, stress relief, nutrition, and even brain health as you’re keeping your mind active as you tend to your garden.
There are a number of studies that prove this to be so. One study in the Netherlands, which had one group of subjects garden after stressful activity, and the other read a book- it was the gardeners that saw their mood improve the most. If you have a community garden within reach, it is ideal as it allows human interaction.
Dancing is a wonderful activity that promotes energy, vitality, physical health and an improved mood to support your overall well-being at any age!
There are many types of dance styles, from ballroom to hip-hop to square dancing and everything in between. Little known fact, taking a dance class is actually on my vision board for this year, and I can't wait until that is manifested into my life.
Like most physical activity the endorphin release helps boost your mood, but the music takes the wellness benefits over the top.
The American Psychological Association recommends cooking as a leisure activity. When you consider that it not only gets you up and about, but that it requires thinking, thus keeping your mind active, it makes sense that it would be considered an important activity to your overall well-being.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health also points to the fact that you are more likely to eat a healthy nutritious diet when you are spending time in the kitchen. If you happen to be cooking with products that you grew in your own garden, then you are in an even healthier position.
I'm a big fan of bringing the kids in the kitchen with you too. The quality time, the extra help, the boosting life skills, it's a win-win-win!
Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to become a body builder, but a little regular exercise keeps your joints moving good, decreases the effects of aging and can help you keep your weight under control. Light walking is actually sufficient to promote your well-being, helping battle against diabetes, not to mention lowering your BMI, fighting high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
In fact, let’s put it like this: 6% of deaths across the world can be attributed to physical inactivity, while it is the fourth leading risk factor for mortality, globally. That equates to over 3 million deaths annually, with almost 700,000 of them being premature. I'd venture to bet this is actually a stat that's getting worse. Over the holiday I bought myself a fitness tracker and realized I was getting less than half the 10,000 steps I used to. A 30 minute workout is just what the doctor ordered.
Walking is an ideal place to start, you can increase it daily and branch out to other activities like tennis, cycling, or whatever else you may prefer. If you can join a club to get time socializing, then that is wonderful, as human contact is important to your well-being.
The majority of leisure activities offer the same benefits: reduction of stress, which can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, exercise to improve your physical being, keeping your mind active, and depending on where you can enjoy your activity, it can keep you social.
Social interaction is the other key aspect of a leisure activity, while you can complete any of these activities at home and alone it is beneficial to spend some time socializing with others.