Do hobbies make your heart (and mouth) happy?
Science says yes!
There was a lot to love this February. That incredible Snow Moon, Stanley the viral Jack Russel, Rihanna (and baby!). Then came Valentine’s Day, heralded by Saint Valentine, who we just found out is also the patron saint of beekeepers — charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey. Too cute. It’s no surprise, then, that February is also American Heart Month, and awareness around heart health and happiness is having a moment.
Here at quip, one thing that brings our hearts collective joy is our hobbies. Remember pandemic hobbies? They’re now a permanent part of many daily routines, and for good reason. Studies continue to prove that having a hobby, defined as, “an activity done regularly in one's leisure time for pleasure,” results in cardiovascular improvements — ones that even your dentist may notice!
Sure, we’ve heard that our heart (and mouth) loves it when we swap our side of fries for fresh fruit, but who knew that gardening, or even bowling, could make them both more fit to last? Let’s explore the relationship between hobbies and heart health, touch on different types of hobbies, and show you how to find one (which is surprisingly easy — there’s at least one for everyone).
Our hearts need lots of love
A recent study examined the impact of hobbies on over 50,000 Japanese adults. The results were pretty wild! Having hobbies such as gardening or travel was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease across the board, independent of sex, age, mental stress levels, and sports frequency.
As a result, engagement in hobbies may soon emerge as a primary mode of preventative care for cardiovascular disease. That’s a pretty huge discovery, considering how notoriously at-risk Americans are — in 2022, the CDC reported one heart attack every 40 seconds.
Those statistics make the rise of the “Hot Girl Walk” seem pretty revolutionary, right? There’s no doubt that integrating preventative behaviors into your daily life is the way to go (and more manageable than medication or even surgery down the line). Kudos to Gen Z, who’s redefining wellness by adopting wholesome, everyday hobbies such as walking or biking, both activities that reduce exposure to behavioral and environmental risk factors.
Reduce risk factors, increase happiness
Though certain hobbies may present obvious physical risks (like cliff-diving or motorcycle racing), they’re typically void of common risk factors for heart disease — ones we might not think twice about, like drinking or smoking. Plus, the environments you’re likely to practice hobbies in are teeming with opportunities for heart-healthy bonding and creativity. Imagine high-fiving a friend 10,000 feet in the air! These social (or solo) settings are designed for purposeful recreation, key to alleviating stress and uncertainty.
Think about how that compares to overtime at the office or the bar, where behaviors associated with poor heart (and oral health) are constantly at arm’s reach. Seriously, who can resist ordering mozzarella sticks after a few drinks? Pro tip: hobbies help you quit bad habits, and so does chewing our favorite gum ;) Depending on the activity, you could trade in your vape (which would make your heart and your dentist very happy), for something more exciting, like deep-sea scuba gear, or a shiny new golf club.
A hole in one exposes you to less toxins, and a much healthier dopamine release (your heart loves dopamine — it’s the neurotransmitter that allows you to feel pleasure and motivation). Practiced over time, hobbies help balance similar hormones, strengthening your heart and your body’s overall ability to self-regulate. Pretty cool! It’s all more connected than you think.
BTW, heart health = oral health
Now, how does all this heart talk tie back to your mouth? Science continues to show that just like you and your upstairs neighbor, they have a symbiotic relationship.
Poor oral care may lead to periodontitis (also known as gum disease), which has been found to nearly double the risk of suffering a stroke. And because blood flows throughout your entire body, all vulnerable systems are at risk of being affected by oral bacteria, which can result in troubling inflammation — ouch!
Oral and heart disease share several common risk factors we’ve mentioned here, like sipping on one too many cocktails. So when you choose hobbies (and habits) that make your heart happy, you’re reinforcing the parts of your brain that care for your oral health, too. It’s a grin, grin. :)
Back to hobbies — let’s find you one
Ready to find your thing? You might try to first decide between a solo or group hobby. If your heart feels like it needs alone time, consider something like art journaling or volunteering with animals (taking your pet to the park also counts!). If you’re yearning to connect with others, joining a language-learning group could be fun — or maybe just grabbing coffee with a different pal every Friday.
Think back to your childhood — what did you love? You might do just that. There’s certainly excitement in trying something entirely new, but reconnecting with your existing passions is deeply fulfilling too. If you were a little kid who dreamt of being an Olympic gymnast, landing a solid front handspring could be such a satisfying full-circle moment.
Public libraries and local volunteer organizations are reliable spots to find like-minded people, and don’t be afraid to pitch some ideas in the group chat. You and your bestie could even discover a new way to spend time together. Lastly, Tik Tok is thriving with ideas and hobbyists — like Amy, who joins “interesting” Facebook groups for fun (in one of them, all the members pretend to be a family).
Hobbies do more than pass the time
With heart health and oral health benefits that go way deeper than making you smile, hobbies are a real winner when it comes to wholesome lifestyle choices. Fall in love or fall back in love with a hobby while there’s still a few days left of this heart-happy month. Who knows, it might even become your next LTR.
As for us here at quip, we’re big fans of reading, sewing and cross-stitching, baking, birdwatching, and getting creative (check out our Sr. Design Researcher’s incredible ceramics!). And if you ask us, a consistent oral care routine definitely counts as a hobby.