HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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a unique exhibit and experience with the sharks. The recently introduced “Shark Bridge” is a rope suspension bridge visitors can cross, walking just inches above nearly two dozen sharks. You can also see sting rays, which are closely related to sharks; unlike sharks, the bodies of these fish tend to be flat and disc-like.


If you can’t get enough of these aquarium denizens, the Newport Aquarium features a breakfast with the penguins and sharks. The pack- ages are perfect for anyone who wants to get up close and personal with penguins and sharks and learn details about their lives in the wild.


When that daily routine feels as though it needs a change of scenery and a stress break, consider taking a relaxing day trip to Newport Aquarium and reap the benefits of an exciting and educational day off. For more information about the Newport Aquarium, visit its Web site at www.newportaquarium.com.


SOURCES & RESOURCES:


•  BBC News (2015). Aquariums deliver significant health benefits. www.bbc.com

•  Cracknell, D. et al. (2015). Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being: Dose–Response Effects in an Aquarium Setting. Environment and Behavior, July 28, 2015.

How do you seek tranquility and relieve the stresses of everyday life? A friend and I recently took a trip to the Newport Aquarium and found it to be a fun and relaxing day trip. Most memorable were the colorful fish, waddling penguins, smooth swimming sharks and beautiful coral. I began to realize there were benefits to a day with a friend and the peacefulness and beauty found within an aquarium. And if you are a lifelong learner, you will benefit from the stimulation of the educational information and unique experiences.


The Newport Aquarium is listed among the most beautiful aquariums in the world. This “treasure of the seas” is a short drive from Lexington and boasts more than 70 exhibits. One of its highlights is its shark ray breeding program. Shark ray pups born at the aquarium continue to enhance efforts to save the vulnerable species. Nearly seven years after the Newport Aquarium established its breeding program, Sweet Pea became the first shark ray to have multiple documented pregnancies. In October 2015, the aquarium announced both its female shark rays were pregnant.


What makes a visit to the aquarium a great stress reducer is there is so much to see and learn. There are more than 32,000 known species of fish in the world today and you will find many of them at the aquarium, including extremely rare schools of fish.

AQUARIUMS COULD IMPROVE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING

One of the most fascinating and popular exhibits is the penguin exhibit. There are 17 species of penguins on earth and they all live south of the equator. The largest of these unique creatures is the Emperor penguin, which stands almost 4 feet tall. Although penguins are flightless and waddle when they walk, they are very graceful swimmers. The black back and white front pattern on a penguin’s body is known as “countershading” and is critical to the penguin’s survival. When a penguin swims under- water, its black back helps it blend into the dark water, and the white underside allows it to blend into the light background when viewed from below.


The aquarium staff provide many helpful and informative facts to educate visitors about different aspects of penguin life. Penguins feed entirely on aquatic animals, specifically crustaceans, fish and squid. The types of food consumed will vary among penguin species and will also change over the year as the availability of certain foods changes. Penguins chase their food underwater and upon catching it, they swallow it whole.


Equally fascinating are the sharks. Sharks display the ultimate blend of power, efficiency and predation that has been refined over time. Newport Aquarium offers

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP

Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.

more articles by dr thomas W. Miller