9 Hobbies That Will Make You Happy and Possibly Live Longer

Being happy and healthy are two things that most people strive to achieve. Although they are both important attributes to have in life, they are not always easily obtained.

Time, work, money, and daily responsibilities can distract us and force us to direct our energy and focus elsewhere. There are, however, many hobbies that can easily be picked up that will help us improve in both health and happiness. It’s important to engage in activities that are good for both the mind and body. Here are 9 simple hobbies you can start today that will make you happy and possibly add years to your life.

1) Writing

Sitting down with a pen and paper (or laptop) can work therapeutic wonders for those going through some kind of stressful event or trauma. Writing has been shown to help those with severe and terminal diseases have a more positive attitude about their ordeal. For example, a 2008 study showed that cancer patients who wrote about their emotions and struggles were better equipped to mentally cope with their disease. It also revealed they had an overall better quality of life when compared to those cancer patients who weren’t journaling.

The health benefits are not just for the sick. Research journals have published articles detailing how expressive writing is linked to improved mood, and reduced stress levels and depressive symptoms as well as lower blood pressure. Additionally, New Zealand researchers found that putting your thoughts and emotions into words may actually help your body heal its wounds faster!

2) Cooking

Learning how to cook healthy meals and preparing them at home is great for the waistline, the budget, and family bonding. Cooking at home is the simplest way to start eating better. When you eat out, you can’t be 100% sure what’s in your food. When you eat at home, you know every ingredient. You can also control your portions at home, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. Cooking at home is also a great opportunity to involve the whole family. Invite the kids to help out with certain tasks and make it a learning and bonding experience. Cooking for others has positive psychological benefits. By performing this act, you feel as though you are nurturing and caring for others, and this often makes you feel happier. Providing someone else with a meal (something they essentially need to survive) creates an intimate bond that’s very fulfilling.

3) Dancing

Staying healthy and happy has never been so much fun. Dancing has long been a way to keep your body physically fit and you mind balanced and happy. It’s also something that can be picked up at anytime, anywhere. All you need is some music. If you add a couple of friends it can make dancing even more fun and sociable, which further boosts its health benefits. Dancing is a cardiovascular workout; this type of exercise improves the health of your heart, lungs, helps strengthen bones, and manage weight. Studies have also shown that elderly people who dance several times a week can improve their balance, lowering their risk for a disastrous fall and injury. Dancing can even be linked to a decreased risk of dementia. So, why not cut loose and boogie down as often as possible? We give you permission!

4) Volunteering

Giving back to your community is a very powerful way to combat depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. Volunteering gives people a sense of purpose and has positive effects on mood, self-esteem, and stress levels. By creating varying social situations for meeting new and interesting people, volunteering keeps your mind stimulated. Selflessly coming together for a cause also gives people a strong sense of unity. These are very important emotions which keep volunteers feeling connected and important to their community. Mental benefits aside, the physical act of volunteering will keep your body healthy, too. There are many events and activities you can volunteer for that will get you up and moving in ways you may not be accustomed. Studies also show that volunteering has a positive effect on blood pressure. Regularly volunteering for physical types of events will keep you both your mind and body healthy and happy.

5) Gardening

You may not think of gardening as an aerobic past time, but it’s certainly better than doing nothing at all. The squatting, bending, pulling of weeds, reaching for tools, and overall tending the land gets the blood pumping and the muscles working. It may not be a cardiovascular workout, but it can definitely be categorized as low-impact exercise. It also gets you outside into the fresh air and sunshine, improving your mood and decreasing your chance of a vitamin D deficiency. The hard work and sense of accomplishment achieved by growing beautiful flowers and vegetables in your very own garden also boosts self-esteem, self-worth, and decreases stress. There have been multiple studies that support this belief we well. The cherry on top? Home-made, homegrown salads and cheerful bouquets of flowers to brighten up your home.

6) Adopting A Pet

Having a furry companion has been shown to lead to lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and decreased feelings of depression, loneliness and anxiety. Having your loyal pet waiting for you at the end of every day certainly has a positive effect on your mood. The bond you have with your pet is very important. Many pet owners testify that the relationship they have with their animal rivals that of human relationships! Cuddling and playing with your pet releases feel good hormones, like dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals combat harmful ones like cortisone, which has a negative effect on your immune system and promotes an unhealthy heart. Dog owners are especially subject to the physical benefits of being a pet owner. Dogs require daily walks and exercise, so if you’re taking care of your pet properly, this means you’re also getting your daily dose of fitness.

7) Listening to Music

We already know the mind and body benefits of dancing, but even just listening to music can have a great positive effect. Massive studies done on the influence of music found that listening to enjoyable tunes can lower stress, anxiety, and depression levels. When we listen to music our bodies release dopamine – the same feel-good chemical released by food and sex. Researchers link dopamine to motivation, thereby connecting music with memory and learning improvements. Scientists also claim that music can improve your workouts by boosting your endurance and mood while distracting you from the tiring task of burning calories. Music has been used in hospitals to help calm patients before surgery and even help with pain management. In conclusion, good music just makes people happy. You know that feeling you get when you hear your favorite song on the radio? That’s exactly what we’re talking about it.

8) Traveling

There are so many ways traveling impacts health and happiness. It’s an important part of life for anyone who values exploration and new experiences. It can be incredibly eye opening and perspective changing, and the more you do it, the more you’ll feel you need it. Traveling provides a much-needed break from the daily grind. Taking a vacation feels necessary in order to relax and recharge the batteries. Getting away from daily stress boosts your mood and lowers your cortisone levels, making you feel more calm and happy. Naturally, the less you’re stressed, the better your health. In fact, there are studies that have linked frequent travel to a lower risk of heart attack. It’s also important to consider the benefits of experiencing different cultures. It builds character, broadens perspective, and increases tolerance and acceptance. These are all extremely important traits to have to be happy in life.

9) Exercising

Walking, running, yoga, and working out in general are great ways to boost your mood while adding years to your life. Yoga is a perfect activity for people of all ages that increases strength, flexibility, energy, and cardiovascular health. Yoga also helps manage stress and maintain balance in those who practice regularly. Walking, running, and other sweat-breaking exercises aid in weight management, which also improves heart health. Exercising isn’t just physically beneficial; it’s also mentally good for you. It’s been shown that 30-minutes of exercise after a stressful day can really improve your mood. During exercise, your brain releases endorphins that make you happier. Exercise changes parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety, allowing you to better cope with these feelings. There have been multiple studies done that show a positive correlation between breaking a sweat and decreased depressive feelings. So, lace up those trainers and get moving!

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