Your Hobby Fights Depression

Your Hobby Fights Depression

The Power of Hobbies: An Antidote to Senior Depression

Senior Engaging in Hobbies


It’s time for seniors to pick up their knitting needles, paintbrushes, or dive into their favorite novels – new research suggests that having a hobby is linked to lower levels of depression in older people. Hobbies can encompass a wide range of activities, including gardening, playing games, arts and crafts, volunteering, reading, or being part of a club. This groundbreaking study, conducted across various countries and including more than 93,000 individuals aged 65 and older, highlights the immense potential hobbies have in protecting seniors’ mental health and well-being.

Karen Mak, the lead author of the study from University College London’s Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care, noted that the study’s findings demonstrated the potential of hobbies to safeguard older individuals from the age-related decline in mental health and well-being. This potential holds true across diverse countries and cultural settings, emphasizing the universal benefits of pursuing hobbies.

Study Design and Result Analysis

The research data were collected from individuals who participated in five studies across the United States, Japan, China, England, and 12 other European countries. Data spanning four to eight years were analyzed, revealing a strong association between having a hobby and decreases in depressive symptoms, as well as increases in happiness and life satisfaction.

While this study couldn’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship, it does provide evidence supporting an association between engaging in hobbies and happiness. Furthermore, even after accounting for other factors such as partnership status, employment, and household income, the results remained consistent.

The Role of Hobbies in Life Satisfaction

Among the various outcomes examined, life satisfaction demonstrated the strongest correlation with hobby engagement. According to Mak, hobbies may contribute to life satisfaction in our later years through several mechanisms. Engaging in hobbies allows individuals to regain control over their minds and bodies, find a purpose in life, and feel competent in dealing with daily challenges. Pursuing hobbies provides a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, which ultimately contributes to overall well-being.

International Variations in Hobby Engagement

The proportion of individuals reporting having a hobby varied significantly across countries. Spain had the lowest percentage, with only 51% of study participants confirming they had a hobby. In contrast, Denmark led the pack with an impressive 96%, followed closely by Sweden at 95.8% and Switzerland at 94.4%.

China had the lowest hobby engagement, with only 37.6% of respondents reporting social hobbies specifically. It’s worth noting that the study in China focused solely on social hobbies, rather than hobbies in general, which might have affected the reported numbers.

Additionally, the research found that countries with better life expectancy and higher levels of national happiness had a greater number of people engaged in hobbies. Furthermore, the link between well-being and having a hobby was stronger in these countries, further emphasizing the positive impact of hobbies on psychological well-being.

Recommendations and Conclusion

The research team believes that their findings support policymakers in promoting access to hobbies among older individuals as a means to enhance their well-being and health. Encouraging participation in hobbies can offer seniors a powerful way to combat depression, boost happiness, and improve overall life satisfaction.

By engaging in activities they enjoy, seniors can reclaim their agency, find purpose, and build a sense of competence. Hobbies unleash a fountain of joy and fulfillment, helping individuals navigate the challenges of aging with grace and positivity.

So, whether it’s knitting, painting, reading, or any other hobby that sparks joy, seniors should seize the opportunity to immerse themselves in these activities. As this study demonstrates, hobbies hold the key to warding off depression and unlocking a world of happiness in our golden years.

Depression Quiz

QUESTION: Depression is a(n) __________

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