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Choose a Hobby: Your Health Will Thank You!

By Erica Cardenas

Most of us have an activity we enjoy doing outside of our normal routine: volunteering, cooking, gardening, reading. Whatever it is, it’s important to remember that what we choose to do in our spare time does matter, and can impact our overall health. Now am I referring to activities such as catching up on Facebook or watching television? Not so much. But I am talking about finding an activity you like to do in your free time that helps you decompress and connect with other people.

You Reap What You Sow

On this month’s episode of Your Health, we explore the topic of healthy hobbies and give you plenty of tips and ideas to consider that will enrich your life and your health. One of those being gardening. In fact, growing your own garden can do more than provide a tasty bounty for your table – it can improve your health, save money and even boost your mood. Mounting evidence shows that numerous health and behavioral problems, such as anxiety and depression, are directly linked to the amount of time you spend outside.

your health
I talk gardening and healthy hobbies with The Farm at South Mountain’s Director of Marketing, Ashley Oakes Scott, on this month’s episode of Your Health. Photo Credit: Brilliant Sky Media.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease also concluded that various physical activities—gardening among them— can reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by 50 percent! Though I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, it’s these types of studies and fascinating insights that inspire me to start digging in the soil and plant my own garden. My family and I recently moved into a new home and coincidentally my husband and I have been talking about growing our own garden.

Well, Mr. Cardenas sign me up…I’m officially ready for that garden! 🙂

We Love Our Pets

The benefits of owning a pet extend far beyond companionship – they ‘re our shoulder to cry on, they make wonderful exercise partners and they’re truly a member of the family. The American Heart Association has found that pet ownership, particularly owning a dog, may actually reduce the risk of heart disease by helping lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Other studies show that playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine – nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.

There’s certainly no shortage of pets in the Cardenas household with one dog, two turtles, two hamsters, and most likely another dog on the way soon. 😉 Our pets have been the source of plenty of teachable moments for our kids, and have filled our home with so much joy.

Jordan Cardenas, in his prime. 🙂 Now 12 years old, this big cuddle bear is still bringing so much love and light into our home.

Pay It Forward

Volunteering and having a presence in your community is a great outlet to improve mental, emotional and social health. It’s a fun way to explore your interests and passions, not to mention it often provides you with a sense of fulfillment and purpose as you give back to others.

I have found that even giving back in simple ways, volunteering via phone or computer to help others, can have a big impact. So don’t be afraid to start small if you can’t commit to a larger task. And with that, I leave us with the words of Mr. Churchill himself.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

So give well, and be well.

Stay healthy, my friends!

Erica Cardenas (@ericacardenas1)