Multiple studies have shown that hobbies can improve your overall health and well-being. They can reduce stress, give you something to focus on, and are often used as a form of self-care. The interesting thing, of course, is how many hobbies there are and how everyone’s interests direct them down different paths.
While hobbies have many benefits, some are riskier than others. Some might be quite obvious; you’re going to put yourself in more danger skateboarding than knitting.
But, some of the health risks of hobbies can be subtle. So, it’s even more important that you’re aware of them, and understand how you can keep yourself safe.
With that in mind, let’s cover a few popular hobbies, some of the risks involved, and how you can keep yourself healthy while doing something you love.
Some people consider themselves to be fitness enthusiasts. On paper, that doesn’t sound like a bad thing. If you’re an avid runner, love going to the gym, or continuously push yourself to see how much weight you can lift, you probably know all about the health benefits associated with those activities.
But, did you know that some physical activities can also pose serious health risks?
Before you stop working out completely, it’s important to know that most of the risks come from over-training and doing more than your body can handle. Exercise can be addictive. There’s a reason the euphoric feeling many people get after a workout is referred to as “runner’s high”. But, the risk of addiction seems to rise depending on how competitive and active you are. One study found that 3.6% of British gym users were at a greater risk of addiction, compared to 6.9% of British sport science students.
Even if you might not consider yourself “addicted” to working out, doing too much of it can wreak havoc on your body. For example, some of the dangers of excessive running include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart disease
You might be puzzled to see that running can increase your risk of heart problems. While it’s one of the best cardiovascular exercises, you can also do “too much of a good thing.” Over-training can cause your arteries to harden and create damage to your tissue. One study discovered that the wear and tear of extreme workouts can lead to ventricular arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat. While you don’t need to give up training, make sure you’re getting enough sleep, fueling your body properly, and paying attention to any signs that you might be doing too much.
Many people choose to dive into hobbies that help them relax and de-stress. Some of the most calming hobbies are things like:
Gardening is another popular hobby with many mental and physical health benefits. It can reduce stress and even offer a great physical “workout” for those who have trouble with traditional exercise. But, be aware while you’re digging in your soil. It may contain a mineral called vermiculite. Until 1990, vermiculite was mined in the same ore deposits as asbestos. As a result, it contains some of the same cancer-causing properties and can cause severe lung damaged when inhaled. Do your research on what to look for, and stay away from any soil that has traces of this mineral.
Even relaxing hobbies like video games can pose a risk to your health. Many people view gaming as a way to “tune out” and decompress. That’s true, and games have been shown to improve problem-solving skills, hand-eye coordination, and even ward off anxiety. But, too much gaming can increase your risk of seizures, obesity, and sleep deprivation. So, while playing a game once in a while is a great way to unwind, don’t allow yourself to get too caught up in gaming for hours.
The term “self-care” is getting quite a bit of traction these days. While it’s important and beneficial to your physical and mental health, there are times when it can do more harm than good.
Everything from taking a bubble bath to cooking your favourite meal can be considered self-care. But, when you start to use those things as a way to treat or “ignore” mental health conditions, self-care becomes a problem. The goal of self-care isn’t to cure depression, anxiety, or other conditions. It’s to maintain an overall sense of well-being.
As a result, the scary side of self-care is that it might encourage people to think they can tackle every mental health struggle on their own, instead of getting the professional treatment they really need. It isn’t meant to be used as a substitute for therapy or counselling. While it might help you to manage symptoms of a mental health condition, it’s not a replacement for active care.
So, while self-care can consist of almost any hobby you enjoy, it should always be done responsibly and with the right mindset of wellness, not treatment.
Having at least one hobby is a wonderful way to boost your overall health. Hobbies encourage you to be a lifelong learner and give you something to look forward to. But, no matter what your interests are, make sure you understand how to stay safe and healthy while you’re doing them. Knowing the risks and how to avoid them will give you peace of mind and allow you to enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.