Many adults today are asked when someone first meets them, what they do for a living. But whether the answer is “doctor” or “engineer” or “poet,” there is another very meaningful question to ask a stranger you meet: “what do you do for fun?” In today’s society, the pressure to succeed and make a lot of money is high, and many people today sacrifice all of their spare energy and time for this. It is one thing to take your future and career seriously, but hobbies are also very much worth the time and effort a person can dedicate to them. Hobbies are not just frivolous fun; the mental and physical health benefits are many, and many studies have confirmed them. So, if you feel that your life is rather stressful and monotonous, it may be time to choose an enjoyable hobby to add some color to your life.
Best of all, there is a huge variety of hobbies out there for just about anyone. Some are great fun but costly, while others are very inexpensive or even free, and some are based on physical activity while others are based on creative work or creating items. Men and women, children and adults, those with money to spare, and those with modest budgets alike can all find a way to enjoy their spare time with a hobby. Let us review some proven benefits of pursuing a hobby, and go over some examples of typical hobbies.
Physical Health Benefits
First, what are the physical benefits of having a hobby? Many sports and outdoor hobbies will build a lot of muscle and improve your balance and coordination, but that is not all. Hobbies are a source of stress relief, and this is both a mental and physical benefit. Having a lot of stress can disrupt your sleep, which in turn will make you tired, irritable, unfocused, and have low energy. No one wants that. Studies show that ongoing and persistent stress can damage your brain, and it will keep your cortisol levels high. In many small ways, the human body is worn out from stress, since it is a burden. Having fun with a hobby may make you feel physically relaxed and comfortable as well as mentally relieved.
And of course, physical hobbies benefit your bodily health greatly. The human body is designed by nature to exercise and move daily, a feature from our early ancestors’ lifestyle of running and hunting game. Sports can help an athlete (pro or amateur) burn fat and calories, which helps promote a healthy body weight. Exercise also improves your coordination and balance, and exercise can also release feel-good hormones. Think of the “runner’s high,” for example, but it is not restricted to just running. Exercise can also help a person sleep better at night since their energy is spent and the body and mind are satisfied with meeting the exercise quota.
Having some good hobbies has endless mental benefits. As mentioned above, a fun hobby can relieve stress, which can improve your mood and help you think more clearly, day and night. What is more, the cliche phrase “it builds character” really is true since having a good hobby can help you explore a new side of yourself and realize your true potential in all sorts of ways. Having a hobby can be a spiritual endeavor of sorts, and help you feel more fulfilled and valid as a person. Besides, having a new hobby will connect you to people who share that hobby, which expands your social circle and can motivate you to keep and improve the hobby. Sports are a good example of this, from soccer to basketball to tennis, not to mention a variety of arts and crafts, such as a poetry club or a group of friends who knit or sew together.
In some cases, learning a hobby might even give you new skills and experience necessary to expand your work options, from computer programming to exercise and cooking to board game design and beyond. Many hobbies tie into one or more industries, many of which are quite large and lucrative. If you’re not sure what sort of job to have, then ask yourself: what do you want to do with your time? The answer can be an excellent compass for where your working life should go.
Different Types of Hobbies
We have now covered some of the major benefits of having a hobby, and that was not even a comprehensive list. Now, let us explore some common and well-recognized hobbies more deeply, and see how they can enrich a person’s life.
One hobby is travel. This hobby can be fairly cheap or very expensive, depending on how you do it. Some people with a lot of money simply enjoy flying around the world, from Paris to Tokyo to Sydney to New Delhi and Buenos Aires, usually by jet. Or even a private jet. But you don’t have to go that far to have fun seeing new and exotic places. The modern American domestic tourism industry is a big one, and the U.S. boasts diverse geography. This ranges from Alaska (which has more than 70 active volcanoes) to the sunny beaches of Hawaii, California, and Florida. Other domestic tourists may visit the redwood forests of Washington State or the grand canyon in Arizona, to the Rocky or Appalachian mountains to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. And that’s just for nature. Many parts of the U.S. may feel like a different nation to domestic tourists, such as the many historic sites in Boston and Philadelphia to pioneer settlements in the Midwest.
Why not try sports? Many sports are easy and affordable to get into, and only require a ball and suitable clothing, such as cleated shoes and breathable shirts and shorts. You could join a club for tennis or soccer, or even just group up with friends and neighbors at the local basketball court. Sports can pass hours of time, and they do not require electronic screens or an internet connection at all. What is more, they also teach good sportsmanship, teamwork, and the value of hard work. In the spring of 2016, just for one example, some 13.46 million people had played softball and/or baseball within the previous 12 months. Soccer, tennis, football, and basketball are also quite popular.
Board games and card games are also a healthy outlet for the mind. Such games not only pass the time without an electronic screen as sports do, but they challenge the mind thoroughly. Board and card games range from simple and child-friendly to quite involved and complex, and they will exercise your capacity for thinking ahead, risk evaluation, math, strategy, juggling tasks, and critical thinking. And yes, these games also prove social and can connect you to other people, like sports can. Many game shops host game tournaments or other gatherings that you can attend, and friendly competition can help motivate you and keep you emotionally invested. Some board game hobbies can be very rewarding but cost substantial money to keep up with, while others can be fairly cheap. Or, in the case of games based on traditional playing cards, practically free.
Hobbies can also create things, and this is mainly the domain of arts and crafts, though computer programming certainly counts, too. Making things is not just for a retirement home; it can be hugely rewarding since you can appreciate the function and/or aesthetics of whatever you just made. This ranges from building matchstick sculptures to knitting and sewing to drawing, painting, writing music, creative fiction, and even gardening. Even if you can’t or don’t want to sell your creations for money, you can give them to friends and family, and many places of business make good use of local artists.
After all, studies show that art in a workplace will cheer up everyone there and even make them feel more creative and flexible, which can only benefit employees and customers there. In particular, 91% of survey respondents reported that art makes their place of work feel more comforting, and 61% of respondents also said that such art makes them feel more creative. Framed photos and paintings can have that effect, and even creative arrangements of desks and tables, not to mention adding potted plants, can boost this effect even further. Office workers are human beings, after all, and thus appreciate the beauty around them. It can go hand in hand with nearly any work.
It’s time to get out there and start enjoying some hobbies!