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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SOURCES AND RESOURCES:


 Mayo Clinic. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. www.mayoclinic.org

WebMD. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Health Center. www.webmd.com/chronic-fatigue-syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the most common name used to designate a significantly debilitating medical disorder or group of disorders generally defined by persistent fatigue. CFS is often accompanied by other specific symptoms that persist for at least six months, according to the Mayo Clinic. This disorder is known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), post-viral fatigue syndrome (PVFS), chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS) and other terms. Biological, genetic, infectious and psychological mechanisms have been proposed for the development and persistence of symptoms with this disorder.


Persons with CFS may report a wide spectrum of symptoms that sometimes have a psychological etiology. These symptoms may include muscle weakness, increased sensitivity to light, sounds and smells, orthostatic intolerance, digestive disturbances, depression and cardiac and respiratory problems. Clinical researchers suggest as many as 75 percent of people with CFS experience migraines. Most migraines in ME/CFS are undiagnosed. Other symptoms of CFS include post-exertion malaise, unrefreshing sleep, widespread muscle and joint pain, sore throat, cognitive difficulties and chronic, often severe mental and physical exhaustion in a previously healthy, active person.


Fatigue is a common symptom in many illnesses, but CFS is comparatively rare. Estimates of its prevalence vary widely, from

CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME

from seven to 3,000 cases for every 100,000 adults. Some national health organizations have estimated more than 1 million Americans and approximately a quarter of a million people in Western Europe have CFS. The disorder occurs most often in adult women. Quality of life is particularly and uniquely disrupted in CFS.


The Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org) notes the cause of CFS is currently unknown, although there are many theories ranging from viral infections to psychological stress. Health care professionals recognize CFS may be triggered by a combination of factors. There is no single test to confirm a diagnosis of CFS. Because of the complexity of this condition, when CFS is suspected, a variety of medical tests may be needed to rule out other health problems with similar symptoms. Treatment for CFS focuses mainly on symptom relief and may include medication and psychological interventions. CFS may also be treated with physical exercise, according to the Mayo Clinic.  

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