What Hobbies Add Years to Your Life?

Research shows that some hobbies have such a powerful impact on your well-being that they can add years — or even decades — to your life! Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer” gives us a few hobbies that science says may increase your lifespan.

  1. Reading. Stress is a big source of health problems that shorten lives. Try picking up a book and escaping into another world. This can decrease your stress levels by 68%, according to a study out of the University of Sussex. It only takes a few minutes for reading to start working its magic. That’s because the human mind has to concentrate on reading. This distraction eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.
  2. Gardening. A number of studies show that the physical activity of gardening — combined with being in a lush, green atmosphere — can enhance and extend life. People in their 60s with green thumbs decrease their risk of developing dementia by 36%, according to research from Australia.
  3. Cooking. Restaurant and processed foods are no good for your health. They can contribute to life-shortening illnesses, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, people who make meals from scratch are much more apt to eat a healthier diet. The more often you cook at home each week, the higher you’ll tend to score on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index. University of Washington researchers say: “Home-cooked dinners were associated with greater dietary guideline compliance, without significant increase in food expenditures. By contrast, frequent eating out was associated with higher expenditures and lower compliance.”
  4. Listening to music. Research shows that regularly attending concerts can add years to your life. One study found just 20 minutes of listening can increase your sense of well-being by up to 21%. In particular, concert attendance increases:
  • Feelings of self-worth by 25%
  • Feelings of closeness to others by 25%; and
  • Mental stimulation by 75%.

The study concluded that such positive feelings could increase your lifespan by up to nine years. According to Fagan, “Our research showcases the profound impact gigs have on feelings of health, happiness and well-being — with regular attendance being the key.”

  1. Volunteering. Helping others is another great hobby to extend your life, but only if your motives are pure. A study published in the journal Health Psychology found that volunteering extends life, but with a strange caveat, according to the American Psychological Association:

“Volunteers lived longer than people who didn’t volunteer, if they reported altruistic values or a desire for social connections as the main reasons for wanting to volunteer, according to the study. People who said they volunteered for their own personal satisfaction had the same mortality rate four years later as people who did not volunteer at all, according to the study.”

Researchers think that proper motivation is key to getting the most out of volunteering because it buffers volunteers from stressors, like impingement on the volunteer’s time and lack of pay, which are part of doing good works.

  1. Walking. This hobby can have a profound impact on your health, and those who take brisk walks might live up to 20 years longer than couch potatoes, according to a Mayo Clinic study. Again, it’s brisk walking — at least three miles per hour or 100 steps a minute — is required to get the life-extending benefits.
  2. Owning a pet. A lot of research has found that pet owners enjoy many health benefits from being around their furry friends. For example, a meta-analysis of studies published between 1950 and 2019 found that dog owners had a 24% risk reduction for death from any cause. The benefit is even more pronounced for seniors with existing heart problems. The study authors believe walking a dog — and getting a little extra exercise — may play a big role in these improved health outcomes. Another study in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology found that people who own cats have a reduced risk of death from heart attack or stroke.

Reference: Money Talks News (Aug. 20, 2021) “7 Hobbies That Help You Live Longer”