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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offer several benefits conducive to revitalizing brain health as we age.


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MUSIC REVITALIZES THE AGING BRAIN

Music provides a language for feelings and emotions. The brain-music connection involves a process whereby a series of vibrations tickle the eardrum and are transmitted into an electrical signal that travels through the auditory nerve to the brain stem, where it is reassembled into something we perceive as music.


Most forms of music may well be of benefit in improving our functional well-being in everyday life. They have potential benefits for those who experience some form of emotional or mental illness. The incredible effects of music on the brain specifically with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease have been recognized as rejuvenating brain function.


Music engages the entire brain. It’s fascinating to look at music as a neuropsychiatric modality, and using music as a way to treat brain-related abnormalities is gaining scientific support. Gottfried Schlaug, who treated stroke victims, found some patients couldn’t complete a sentence, but they could enunciate words when they sang. After giving them two weeks of singing lessons, Schlaug found through MRI scans the music had literally rewired some aspects of brain functionality. The take-home message here is many forms of music may

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.

Exercise comes in several forms. If you want to firm up your body, the gym is the correct venue. However, if you want to rejuvenate your brain, listening to some of your favorite music is a comforting resource.


Music revitalizes the brain with pleasurable sounds. Reach for familiar music that is relaxing and comforting. Focus on how you react to different forms of music, then chose the kind that provides a blend that boosts or calms your emotions, depending on your mood, and helps concentration reach greater potential.


Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have been studying the impact of various forms of music – ranging from jazz to rap and classical to easy listening – on the human brain. The researchers are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to assess which areas of the brain are affected by the music their subjects are hearing. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses powerful magnets and radio waves to assess any area of the human body.


Their findings suggest music stimulates the brain, so if you wish to keep your brain engaged throughout the aging process, listening to or playing music is a great tool to use on a regular basis. It provides a total brain workout. And research has shown listening to music can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure and alleviate some forms of pain as well as improve sleep quality, mood, mental alertness and memory.