Why you should always have a hobby

Why you should always have a hobby

When life gets busy, the balance between work and play tends to shift. But when retirement comes and long days at the office become a thing of the past, people often wonder how to best spend their time. While many might prefer to kick up their feet and relax, a new research study suggests that a busy schedule keeps your mind sharp, active and knowledgeable.

Over 300 people between the ages of 50-89 were surveyed for the Dallas Lifespan Brain Study. Researchers hypothesized that maintaining a busy schedule would result in a more engaged lifestyle, thereby improving cognition and brain function. The researchers suggest that keeping busy opens up opportunities to meet new people in different environments and take in more information. But does age matter?

“The study adds to a growing body of literature suggesting that ‘exercising one’s mind,’ like exercising the body, is likely to be beneficial to cognition,” says Dr. Darren Gitelman, the senior medial director in the Advocate Memory Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital. “Notably, being busy was beneficial at all ages studied, suggesting it’s never too late to engage in activities.”

So how should someone who is retired go about adding activities to their day?

  • Volunteer: almost everyone feels better after giving back to their community.
  • Pick up a hobby, old or new: while it may sound hard, once you get into the swing of it, you’ll feel amazing! Just ask this guy.
  • Join a group: book clubs, church groups, mah-jongg clubs–the possibilities are endless.
  • Find a good workout: obviously, mental health is vital, but so is being physically active. Some popular recommendations include going for a walk, running, biking, swimming or doing yoga.

It’s important to note that some questions were not addressed in the study. Dr. Gitelman cautions, “the study also raises a number of questions and has important limitations. It was not clear whether being busy helps to improve cognition, or if those with better cognition are able to be busier. It is also unknown what types of activities busy people were engaged in. Thus, it is difficult to use the results to define specific activity programs to enhance busyness in a way most likely to benefit people.”

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health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.