If you are fortunate enough to already have a hobby, you will know that making time for a new skill each day helps to lower stress and build confidence. There are also the added benefits of creating a new like-minded social circle, alleviating boredom, and giving yourself something to talk about when meeting new people.
But new research has found that having a hobby can also increase your lifespan. The study aimed to clarify whether having a hobby was linked to the mortality rates in a community of elderly people. It found that participants who had a hobby felt that they had a purpose in life, which not only extended their longevity but also increased healthy life expectancy.
Could this have just been a one-off? Further research published in Psychological Science confirms this is not the case. Scientists provided questionnaires to 6,000 adults of all ages to determine whether they felt their life had a purpose. The participants were then re-visited 14 years later for a similar examination. Those who had initially reported a strong purpose in life had a 15% lower risk of death compared to those who had not.
Hobbies are directly linked with our sense of purpose in life, as they encourage us to learn and feel passionate about something outside of work. When you enjoy an activity, your brain releases feel-good chemicals which can balance hormones, reduce stress and improve the function of your heart and immune system.
This is great news for anyone who has already found their passion in life. But what about those who haven’t? When looking for a new hobby, it’s a great idea to start with something you have always been drawn to. Think back to the subjects you enjoyed the most at school or activities you have been particularly impressed by. Consider whether there is something you would like to improve upon, such as fitness or memory, and try to find a hobby that works with that aim. For example, archery will not only build up fitness levels but also improves the brain’s ability to process memories.
Brain games such as Sudoku or Lodden Thinks are another great way to keep the brain in shape, new research is suggesting that some video games can also have the same effect. If games are not your thing, try re-acquainting yourself with the kitchen to create delicious feasts for your friends, or dig out your old paint box and create the masterpiece you’ve been thinking about for so long. Mix up fitness and socialising by attending your nearest sports centre to check out the swim club or the rock climbing wall, or visit the library to find out where the book clubs in your area meet.
For those who prefer to get outside, gardening, hiking, and photography are excellent excuses to leave the house, while hobbies such as yoga and meditation have been scientifically proven to stave off memory impairment symptoms, relieve stress and improve immune function. If you find your new hobby can be rather solitary, try attending festivals, classes, and workshops based on your interest to meet other people..
Perhaps you have decided that you want to make getting fit your new hobby. After all, what better way to increase your lifespan than with a healthy and active hobby? And it has never been easier than right now to find and online PT to suit your available time, just like Andy Griffiths! This can stop you from feeling alone in your journey and bring a whole new element to your workouts.
Be kind to yourself and remember that learning a new skill requires patience. It is a myth that some people are better at certain things than others, almost anyone can master a skill provided they have the right mix of determination and passion. Keep track of your progress by taking videos or photos of the journey into your hobby so that you can see how far you develop in the first few months and watch as your confidence and self-esteem flourishes!