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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The Journal of the American Medical Association ( JAMA) estimated in 2010 that American men and women were obese by 32.2 percent and 35.5 percent, respectively. It’s no surprise these numbers tend to be higher here than in most countries, given the American way of life and the easy access to plenty of food. Having the ability to live in excess gives one the feeling of affluence and having more than enough, but if the excess is used to satisfy your self-image or offset stress, it can become harmful.


Based in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, Overeaters Anonymous (OA) was founded by Rozanne S. and two of her friends in 1960. It was modeled after the 12-step program made famous by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), whose founder was Bill W. OA boasts roughly 60,000 members in 75 countries. Its Website (www.oa.org) offers membership to any and all compulsive eaters, with info for support groups in every city.


One major difference between OA and AA is that OA has people on either side of the spectrum. While AA and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) deal with people totally refraining from alcohol and drugs, OA helps those who are not getting enough sustenance from food. Anorexics, bulimics and people suffering from other eating disorders are OA members as well.


Like other anonymous groups working from a 12-step model, OA relies on aspects that fly in the face of traditional psychotherapy. “Yielding to

OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS - ORGANIZATION FOLLOWS A 12-STEP APPROACH

a higher power” and focusing on the spiritual as well as the opinions of others in the group setting would not regularly happen in a psychotherapy group session, though it could. Psychotherapy generally relies on the power differential in the doctor-patient relationship that hopefully moves towards healing. Twelve-step groups regards every attendee as equal, with everyone giving testimony and realizing they will always need some kind of support to fight their addiction.


Thanks to the Internet, OA offers podcasts, virtual work-shops and other recordings to help members. But the bottom line, as usual, is ownership of the addiction. OA also encourages members to stay aware and present enough not to fall back into unhealthy cycles of behavior and help others battle their demons as well. The longer addictions of any kind run on, the more hold they have on your life. It’s important to get the help you need and move on.

CHARLES SEBASTIAN

Charles Sebastian is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by charles sebastian