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More Than: Fallon of LFLF

March 18, 2010

I only recently began reading Heather’s blog; in fact, I tuned in because I was linked to the More Than series from another healthy living blog I follow. I was instantly hooked because the point being made with the More Than series is one I am continuously trying to remind myself of: being truly healthy does not just involve a healthy body. A truly healthy person has a healthy body, a healthy mind, and a healthy spirit.

So, when Heather opened the door to anyone willing to write a post for the series, I was immediately interested. There are so many aspects to living healthy, but today I’d like to write about hobbies.

A hobby is basically defined as an extracurricular activity done purely for the pleasure of it. Before I get too far into this though, I do want to clarify: I’m writing about non-physical hobbies, and I’ll explain why.

I believe that most people reading and writing healthy living blogs are regular exercisers and calorie/Point counters, or at the very least they are careful about their portions and aim to eat as many whole, nutritious foods they can. They are women (and men, but mostly women, it seems) who have any number of responsibilities and tasks to complete in their day: meals for spouses and children, getting kids to/from school, work, school, volunteering, social functions, and so on and so forth. Despite the varied things they have to finish in their days before hitting the hay at night (and hopefully getting enough sleep, but that’s a topic for another post), many of them focus their days around what they eat and what exercise they get in.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Far from it. What I’m trying to say is that, I believe many healthy living bloggers and their readers are more likely to abandon other health-inducing hobbies in favor of the physical activities. After all, many of us start out in the pursuit of weight loss and fall into the pursuit of an overall healthy lifestyle on the way. I know that’s how I got here. And the benefits of physical hobbies are obvious. Running, swimming, biking, visiting the gym… These activities help us lose weight and tone our bodies, and of course they have other benefits as well.

But what about those other hobbies that may have fallen by the wayside? Scrapbooking, reading, knitting, gardening, collecting stamps, making jewelry… They may not burn the calories of an hour’s run or swim, but please don’t discount them as less healthy. These non-physical activities can have many benefits.

Anne Domar, director of Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Center for Women’s Health, says that hobbies reduce stress by distracting you from everyday worries. And repetitive motions, such as knitting, can induce the relaxation response, marked by a feeling of overall security and lowered blood pressure.[1] A hobby with a tangible finished product, like woodworking or beadwork, yields a feeling of satisfaction that research from Randolph-Macon College shows can help combat depression.[2] Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, of Wayne State University says that people who have hobbies are “generally healthier.” “We also know they are at a lower risk for depression and dementia. The great value of hobbies is they’re a way for people to stay engaged on multiple levels.”[3]

Hobbies can be solitary—giving you a chance for quiet contemplation of yourself—or social, allowing for healthy relationship building. A Japanese study of 12,000 participants found that those involved in social hobbies and community activities were less likely to die of a stroke or other circulatory diseases.[4]

Having a tough time at work? Feel like your boss just doesn’t listen? Pick up your paintbrush, crossword puzzle, or scrapbooking kit when you get home. “Hobbies provide a calming sense of control,” Domar says.[5] Research shows that the feeling of control you gain from being in charge of your painting, puzzle, or scrapbook page can boost your immunity. Numerous studies also show that hobbies slow mental decline and dementia in the elderly.[6]

Of course, most physical hobbies have similar benefits. If you truly enjoy running or going to the gym, you’re probably gaining the same mental well-being that you might from knitting a scarf. But perhaps in the future, if you feel the impulse to sit down and make a few scrapbook pages, you won’t feel guilty for spending that time adding to your family album when you could be riding your bike instead. After all, it can yield many of the same benefits.

[1] Caudron, Sheri. “The Healing Power of Hobbies“. Reader’s Digest. 3/11/10

[2]“. 3/11/10

[3]How Hobbies Help Your Health“. Wyoming Valley Health Care System. 3/11/10

[4]“. 3/11/10

[5] Caudron, Sheri. “The Healing Power of Hobbies“. Reader’s Digest. 3/11/10

[6] Caudron, Sheri. “The Healing Power of Hobbies“. Reader’s Digest. 3/11/10

Meet my new friend Fallon. You can learn more about Fallon by visiting her blog and following her twitter feed.

Fallon write a few awesome regular features on her blog including a Tuesday Blog Highlight where she shares information on really cool bloggersBaking Blog Saturdays featuring yummy baked good recipes and Photo of the Day.  Fallon’s blog is also full of good information and conversation.  I’m a big fan of learning the science of nutrition, so you know I loved this post on white rice vs brown rice.

TIME TO DISCUSS: What are some of your non-exercise hobbies?  How do you feel they benefit your health?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kelly permalink
    March 18, 2010 10:02 am

    I 100% agree with this! Even though my knitting and art projects don’t do much for me physically, they stimulate my mind and that keeps me healthy mentally. I DO feel like it reduces stress and helps my body and mind to relax.

    Also, many times I turn to knitting or painting when I am bored. A much better outlet for my bordem than snacking. Great post Fallon!

  2. March 18, 2010 5:21 pm

    I am a firm believer that if I do not read a book a month my brain will begin to die. I would like to read MORE THAN one book a month, but as stated in Fallon’s post I have children, a husband, a job and a zillion other things that HAVE to be done so one book a month is a good goal. If I get more than one in I feel all the better for it!!

    I also LOVE to take pictures! Now it’s mostly of my girls, but nature, architecture, animals…LIFE is a beautiful photograph subject.

    Thank you Fallon (love that name by the way) for reminding people that life is MORE THAN just what I ate for dinner or how many miles I ran this week.

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