Hobbies offer many potential benefits for your physical and mental health. Some of the most well-known benefits of hobbies include stress relief, improved physical fitness, increased social interaction, high work performance, and enhanced creativity. What is more important, and not apparent at first glance, is that hobbies improve heart health.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Thankfully, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. One of those things is having hobbies that help you relax and relieve stress. When you focus on something that is not work-related, you give your mind something else to focus on that you find to be fun and enjoyable. And, when you get into the flow of the hobby, you will find your worries and stresses fade away. When you reduce your stress levels, you're also helping to protect your heart health.
Another way a hobby can improve your heart health is by improving your sleep quality. Poor sleep has been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Participating in a calming hobby before bedtime can help you fall asleep more easily and get the restful night's sleep that your body needs. Some great hobbies to wind down before bedtime include reading, knitting, or journaling.
Hobbies that involve social interaction can help to reduce loneliness and isolation, both of which have been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you want to improve your heart health and meet new people, participating in group activities such as team sports, dance classes, or community service projects may be the perfect solution.
As a bonus, hobbies help your physical body. Research has found that engaging in enjoyable activities during your downtime can lower your blood pressure and total cortisol and help reduce your body mass index.
Last but not least, hobbies keep the brain sharp. When you engage in activities that are new or challenging, it helps create new neural pathways in the brain. This can help improve cognitive function and stave off diseases like dementia. So, not only is gardening a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, but it could also help keep your mind sharp as you age.
How to choose and start a hobby
Choosing a hobby should be something you enjoy and look forward to regularly doing. It's essential to find an activity you're passionate about so that it feels like something other than work. Once you've selected a hobby, starting it is usually as simple as just doing it! If you're looking for ideas, here are 5 popular hobbies you can start at home.
1) Work out online.
Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your heart health. Exercise helps to lower blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress. Many options are available online if you want to exercise regularly without leaving the house. You can find workout videos, streaming classes, and more that fit any schedule and fitness level. All you need is a computer or mobile device and an internet connection.
2) Learn how to cook.
As you already know, eating a healthy diet is another essential part of maintaining heart health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help lower cholesterol levels and improve heart function. If you need to get used to cooking at home, start with simple recipes that use ingredients that are good for your heart.
3) Practice meditation.
Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Your heart rate variability (HRV) increases when you feel calm and relaxed. You can try guided meditations, mindfulness meditation, breathing exercises, or even sit in silence with your eyes closed for a few minutes each day. Finding a method that allows you to focus on your breath and clear your mind of intrusive thoughts is essential.
4) Learn an instrument.
Playing an instrument has been shown to have many benefits for physical and mental health. One study found that playing the violin can help improve heart function by increasing blood flow. Now might be the perfect time to learn if you still need to play an instrument. You can watch YouTube videos or take lessons from friends or family members. And, if you don't have an instrument at home, many can be rented from music stores.
One study found that painting can help improve cognitive function, hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, perception, problem-solving, self-esteem, and confidence. It has also been shown to have benefits for physical and mental health. It relieves stress because it allows you to be creative and express yourself. The act of painting can help to clear your mind and focus on the present moment. It can lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Your hobbies can significantly impact your overall health – including your heart health. So if you don't have a hobby yet, now is the perfect time to start! Find something you enjoy doing and make it part of your routine. Your heart will thank you for it!