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The Benefits of Hobbies: Collection of Scientific Findings

Some things don’t require scientific proof. For example, no one will probably dispute the benefits of hobbies or that hobbies are good for you. However, some of us may need encouragement to start pursuing a new hobby, and some scientific facts can provide this little authoritative nudge.

woman painting outside garden

Scientific findings on the benefits of hobbies

In sum, leisure appears to have a consistent within-person
benefit on a person’s daily health and well-being; when individuals engaged in leisure, they also reported better mood, more interest, less stress, and exhibited lower heart rate than when they were not engaging in leisure activity.

Matthew J. Zawadzki, Ph.D. and others, Real-Time Associations Between Engaging in Leisure and Daily Health and Well-Being, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Volume 49, Issue 4, August 2015, Pages 605–615,

Higher PEAT (Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test) scores were associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function. […] The PEAT was correlated with higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative affect.

Enjoyable leisure activities, taken in the aggregate, are associated with psychosocial and physical measures relevant for health and well-being

Pressman SD, Matthews KA, Cohen S, Martire LM, Scheier M, Baum A, Schulz R. Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosom Med. 2009 Sep;71(7):725-32. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978. Epub 2009 Jul 10. PMID: 19592515; PMCID: PMC2863117.

A comparison of the two groups of older adults with and without engagement in leisure activities showed that those engaged in at least one leisure activity were more likely to be women, reported higher levels of flourishing, and perceived their own financial status as better. This study indicated that engaging in leisure activities in later life might provide beneficial effects for the well-being of older adults.

Kaliterna Lipovčan, L., Brkljačić, T., Prizmić Larsen, Z., Brajša-Žganec, A., & Franc, R. (2018). Leisure activities and the subjective well-being of older adults in Croatia. GeroPsych: The Journal of Gerontopsychology and Geriatric Psychiatry, 31(1), 31–39.

Although effect modifications by cognitive functioning and depression cannot be ruled out, our findings suggest that having hobbies and PIL (purpose in lifei) may extend not only longevity, but also healthy life expectancy among community-dwelling older adults.

Tomioka K, Kurumatani N, Hosoi H. Relationship of Having Hobbies and a Purpose in Life With Mortality, Activities of Daily Living, and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living Among Community-Dwelling Elderly Adults. J Epidemiol. 2016 Jul 5;26(7):361-70. doi: 10.2188/jea.JE20150153. Epub 2016 Mar 5. PMID: 26947954; PMCID: PMC4919481.

In our study, we found that self-esteem increased in women who were diagnosed with breast cancer and took up hobbies, and this had a significant effect on their quality of life.

Cagirtekin A, Tanriverdi O. Social hobbies can increase self-esteem and quality of life in female breast cancer patients with type A personality trait: KRATOS study. Med Oncol. 2022 Dec 16;40(1):50. doi: 10.1007/s12032-022-01925-3. PMID: 36526823; PMCID: PMC9757629.

Results from over 3000 studies identified a major role for the arts in the prevention of ill health, promotion of health, and management and treatment of illness across the lifespan

What is the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being? A scoping review

Community-dwelling elderly Japanese people with hobbies are healthier than those lacking hobbies.

Hirosaki M, Ishimoto Y, Kasahara Y, Kimura Y, Konno A, Sakamoto R, et al Community-dwelling elderly Japanese people with hobbies are healthier than those lacking hobbies. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Jun;57(6):1132–3.[PubMed]0002-8614

When controlling for all identified time-varying confounders, taking up a hobby was associated with a decrease in depressive symptoms (coefficient –0.28, 95% CI –0.34 to –0.23) and a 30% lower odds of experiencing depression (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.76).

Daisy Fancourt, Simon Opher, Cesar de Oliveira; Fixed-Effects Analyses of Time-Varying Associations between Hobbies and Depression in a Longitudinal Cohort Study: Support for Social Prescribing?. Psychother Psychosom 10 March 2020; 89 (2): 111–113.

A regular pastime can ease mental stress, improve work–life balance and help scientists to reach innovative solutions in their work.

Rosen J. How a hobby can boost researchers’ productivity and creativity. Nature. 2018 Jun;558(7710):475-477. doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-05449-7. PMID: 29915421.

Conclusion: Hobbies Are Good For You

The benefits of hobbies are threefold:

First of all, they give us a break that we all need:

Breaks can improve our moods, overall well-being and performance capacity, says Charlotte Fritz, PhD, an associate professor in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology at Portland State University in Oregon.

Weir, K. (2019, January 1). Give me a break. Monitor on Psychology50(1).
photo of woman in red tank top sitting by the side of a dirt road next to a her bike

Second, each hobby has its traits, whether it be physical fitness, mental exercise, or social interaction.

Lastly, hobbies can give us a sense of purpose and meaning that we are all craving for.

Hobbies 4 Life helps you explore, find and start the hobby your life is missing.

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