Life, Longevity, and the Pursuit of Hobbies Posted on 24 Oct 16:20

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When Salustiano Sanchez Blazquez, the oldest living man on record, turned 112 this year he was of course asked, “what’s your secret to longevity?” His answer was a tad surprising. The super-centenarian explained that he’s stretched his life span by eating a banana a day and taking a daily dose of six anacin pills. (Anacin is a combo of caffeine and aspirin.) Is it just that easy?

Bananas aside, there are relatively simple things we can do to increase our longevity, like develop a hobby. Salustiano passes time (which is obviously on his side) gardening, solving crossword puzzles, and playing gin rummy regularly with his younger friends. As honest as Salustiano Sanchez Blazquez’s name is long, having a hobby can lengthen your life span.

5 Ways a Hobby will Improve Your Life

1. Hobbies lead to better physical health

While it’s easy to imagine that hobbies better your emotional well-being, they also have a positive impact on your physical well-being. Research shows that hobbies can help you feel less fatigued, and gain better overall physical function. Hobbies can also lower blood pressure. A study by researchers at the University of Kansas found that patients with arthritis who played the piano in 20 minute sessions, four times a week, over a four-week period improved not only range of motion, but several other areas of dexterity and strength.

2. Hobbies can bring you added happiness

Hobbies make us feel happy. When you feel happy and optimistic, your cortisol decreases and your serotonin increases, which creates a sense of well-being and helps your brain function at peak capacity. Happy thoughts and positive thinking promotes brain growth. The truth is if your brain feels happy, you’ll feel happy.

3. Hobbies help relieve stress

Got stress? Then get a hobby. Everyone needs responsibility-free time in their schedules, especially busy people. Hobbies afford busy folks a break from the rigor, which alleviates stress. Because hobbies are typically productive, you won’t feel guilt for spending time on them—that will let you just enjoy and unwind. Buffering the effects of stress is a great way to stave off burnout. That’s why some people say their hobby is their salvation…or their sanity.

4. Hobbies boost your self-esteem

Having hobbies can create more of an identity in us. Hobbies allow us to learn something new and to become more accomplished. Who doesn’t feel better about themselves when accomplishments happen? Learning something new and mastering it always feels rewarding. Oftentimes, just the act of doing matters as much as the actual achievement. So just do it.

5. Hobbies prevent mental debilitation

The New England Journal of Medicine confirms that mind-building hobbies may prevent and/or minimize memory loss in the elderly. A Mayo Clinic study of 1,321 participants showed that those who read, enjoyed a craft or played on the computer lowered their memory loss by as much as 30 to 50 percent. In fact, taking up a hobby does more for preventing Alzheimer’s or Dementia than walking. Hobbies are great preventative medicine.