- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
Check those holiday gifts: if you received one that can get you started on a new hobby, it might be the gift that keeps on giving. A study published online Sept. 11, 2023, by Nature Medicine suggests that having a hobby is good for your health, mood, and more. Researchers combed through five large studies involving more than 93,000 people across 16 countries (including the United States, Japan, China, and a dozen European countries). Participants were all ages 65 or older, and more than 60% had longstanding mental or physical health conditions. They periodically answered questionnaires about their health and well-being, and were followed for four to eight years. Compared with people who didn't have hobbies, those who did reported better health, more happiness, fewer symptoms of depression, and higher life satisfaction. The findings were similar across all countries. The study is observational and doesn't prove that hobbies caused people to be healthy and happy. But the researchers say hobbies — such as arts and crafts, games, gardening, volunteering, or participating in clubs — involve creativity, sensory engagement, self-expression, relaxation, and cognitive stimulation, which are linked to good mental health and well-being. Plus, taking part in hobby groups keeps you socially connected, which helps reduce loneliness and isolation.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
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