How to Choose Hobbies for the New Year

A woman does yoga in her apartment/studio

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Hobbies are considered leisure activities people engage in to relax and destress from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. They not only establish purpose and skill but also promote positive mood and social interaction.

Subjective well-being is higher in those who partake in a variety of social, cultural and home leisure activities.

In addition to their contribution to the quality of life (QoL), hobbies may even enhance duration of life as it offers many benefits to physical, cognitive, and mental health.

This article covers the health benefits of hobbies, types of hobbies you can try, how to choose a hobby based on your interests, and why you should try picking up a hobby in the New Year.

Health Benefits of Hobbies

Whether it be a physical activity, like hiking, or an intellectually stimulating puzzle, hobbies are very impactful to an individual’s health.

Benefits of Physical Activities

Physical activities reduce stress, strengthen muscles, enhance cognition, and help improve mood. It is recommended that an adult indulges in 75 to 150 minutes of physical activity per week to practice disease prevention and adequate health precautions.

Researchers have found that execution of the recommended weekly physical activity guidelines is related to greater health outcomes.

A study including participants with fibromyalgia, found physical activity to aid in symptom relief. It also lessens fatigue and is correlated with better sleep quality.

An additional study addressing physical activities' influence on QoL determined them to be correlated with positive physical health but also other aspects of QoL, like spiritual, mental, social and emotional wellness.

Benefits of Recreational Activities

Physical activities are very important in maintaining overall well-being but other recreational activities are also related to better QoL and are very beneficial to cognition.

Researchers found that the likelihood of dementia was less in individuals who participated in a greater amount of reading and other recreational activities weekly, for a longer duration of 1 hour a day compared to 30 minutes.

Problem-solving hobbies like puzzles and games, along with reading and writing, as well as artistic hobbies, are all very beneficial to memory, mental clarity, creativity, etc. These types of hobbies are also associated with spiritual and emotional wellness. 

What Hobbies Help With

Engaging in a hobby can boost your physical, cognitive, and mental health in the following ways:

Physical Health

Cognitive Health

Mental Health

Types of Hobbies

There are various physical and non-physical leisure activities. Individuals partake in physical recreational activities to clear their mind and their exercise their bodies.

Physical activities also include team sports. This facilitates peer engagement and tests your physical endurance.

Non-physical recreational activities include art, problem-solving, reading literature, etc. These are usually relaxing but they also provide mental stimulation and skill advancement.

Physical Activities

  • Recreational: Yoga, Pilates, Tai chi, walking, running, jogging, hiking, gymnastics, ballet, fishing, skating, swimming, bowling, golf, dance, cardio
  •  Sports: Basketball, soccer, boxing, volleyball, tennis, karate, martial arts, water sports, snow sports, etc.

Recreational Activities

  • Art: Painting, sketching, sculpting, digital art, graphic design, illustration, photography, film, theater, music, crafts, fashion, design
  • Literature: Reading, creative writing, story-telling
  • Problem-solving: Skill games, puzzles, sudoku puzzles, crossword puzzles, video games, coding
  • Other: Cooking, baking, planting, learning a language, meditating, driving 

Why You Should Have Hobbies

Everyone needs a break from responsibilities, chores, and looking at screens! Hobbies allow us to take some time away from life's duties or distractions while also being productive.

Hobbies are an amazing opportunity to have a little fun during selective leisure time. Not only are you able to enjoy a recreational pastime, but hobbies allow you to develop skills and values that can last a lifetime. Hobbies might also help you feel more present in the moment.

The More Hobbies, The Better

Never think you can only have one hobby, it's actually best to engage in multiple hobbies throughout the week. Explore different types of hobbies to not only find what fits you best but also exceed all benefits hobbies can offer.

It’s important to participate in both physical activities as well as other recreational activities that benefit your cognitive function.

Although multiple hobbies mean greater benefits, try not to take on so many that you begin to find them taxing or draining. The entire purpose of hobbies is to relax and enjoy yourself, so make sure you are not adding additional stress to your life.

So, if you are trying out a new hobby, remember to balance your time. Make a schedule of which activity you want to partake in throughout the week and you can alternate each week or each month. Find whatever cadence works for you.

How to Decide Which Hobby to Choose

What benefits are you searching for in a hobby? Most hobbies can boost overall well-being, but certain hobbies are suited for certain interests and passions.

  • For People Who Love Physical Exercise: If you're the type of person who likes to work up a sweat and feels better after a good workout then activities such as yoga, dancing, walking, or running might be great hobbies for you to try.
  • For People Looking for Mental Stimulation: If you find that you enjoy staying in or already have a physically demanding job, you might want a hobby that engages your mind rather than your body. For instance, you might join a book club, go to an art class, or learn how to cook a new recipe.
  • For Those That Enjoy the Outdoors: Getting outside is very influential to both mental and physical health. If you want to experience more time in nature, then try activities that involve being outside like hiking, biking, planting, and water sports.
  • For Social Butterflies: If you're someone who likes to get out and meet new people, finding a hobby that requires a lot of socializing might be an important factor in choosing a hobby. If so, you can do team sports like soccer, or take some group dance classes. You can take exercise classes, such as Zumba or kickboxing, or maybe writing, cooking, or art classes. Hobbies can also be great bonding activities to engage in with loved ones. Taking a class is a perfect way to connect with others.

Go Back to Your Childhood

If you're still having a tough time deciding which hobby to choose, you might want to take a moment to think about the activities you used to love when you were a child. You can take that old childhood interest or dream of yours and mold it into a hobby. If you liked drawing (whether you were good at it or not) give it a try as an adult.

If you were more physically active and loved to play sports or maybe imagined doing it, why not take a dance class or shoot around a basketball with some friends. It’s never too late to put into fruition a dream you once had or to try something new that you always wanted to do. Invest that much-needed time in yourself!

Discover Your Creative Side

Believe it or not, everyone has creativity within them. Implementing creativity into your life offers its own health benefits.

We are all creative in different ways and each has a unique way of expressing it. However, art is not the only way to express creativity. Creativity exists in various types of activities, like imagining characters in the story you are reading or making your own characters into a narrative of your own.

Even completing a puzzle unlocks some creative juices. Take a look at some hobbies that stimulate the brain and allow you to express yourself while seeing the world from a different perspective.

New Year, New Hobbies

This new year, why not pick up a new hobby? Even if you already have a hobby that you participate in during your free time, pick up another. A versatile you is the best you! We are always working on ourselves as people and that doesn't have to stop in the hobbies we choose. Through hobbies, we are able to develop and grow in specific areas of life. Hobbies initiate pride, confidence, and self-respect, along with a little “me time.”

It’s possible there is a hobby from your past that you forgot about and may want to continue. Whether the hobby is brand new or vintage, it’s a new experience fit for a new year.

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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Tiara Blain
Tiara Blain, MA, is a freelance writer for Verywell Mind. She is a health writer and researcher passionate about the mind-body connection.