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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buildup of daily stress. This rhythmic dance helps build self-confidence by encouraging you to appreciate your body and show self-love.


If you are looking for a unique way to be physically active, give belly dancing a try. “It allows you to be creative and spontaneous,” said Self. Let yourself experience something new. Move your hips, be creative and gain the confidence to go out and express yourself.

Many people think fitness involves going to the gym, getting involved in vigorous physical activity and breaking a sweat. However, fitness can be anything you want it to be, as long as the body is moving and the activity is beneficial to your health. Belly dancing is not just about shaking your hips and moving to the music. It is also considered to be a fun form of fitness. Jenann Self teaches a class called Belly Dancing for Fun and Fitness at Roots & Wings Yoga and Healing Arts in Natick, MA. “It is truly a fun way to get fit,” she said.


Originally, belly dancing was a social dance. It was important to various cultures. The term “belly dancing” came from the French phrase danse de ventre, which means “dancing of the stomach.” This practice descended from many different cultures in the Middle East. Men and women both participated in belly dancing at festive events because they were not allowed to dance with each other during ancient times.


Belly dancing engages many different muscle groups. There is movement in the stomach, hips and thighs, as well as the flowing of the arms throughout the rhythmic dance.



“Belly dancing is about isolation and muscle control,” Self said. “It works almost every part of the body.”

BELLY DANCING FOR FUN AND FITNESS

Most people think doing hundreds of crunches and holding planks for a long time will help them attain a flat stomach or toned abs. Belly dancing can help you achieve the stomach you desire by swiveling your hips and engaging the upper and lower abdominal muscles. Incorporated with regular cardiovascular exercise, the practice can very well help you reach some of your fitness and weight- loss goals.


There are many benefits of belly dancing. These include:


Building and toning muscles. The circular motion of the hips and stomach help maintain a toned core. Belly dancing both engages and controls certain parts of the body through muscle isolation. It moderately tones all major muscle groups.


Weight loss. Belly dancing burns calories and can help contribute to weight loss when paired with other cardiovascular activities.


Stress reduction and confidence building. Belly dancing incorporates swaying the hips and repetitive movement of the stomach, both of which can reduce the

TANIQUA WARD, M.S

TaNiqua Ward is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

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