Having at least one thing you do for yourself through a hobby is liberating. Pursuing an activity you love and find meaningful has numerous benefits for health. For instance, it’s good for your mental health if you read books as a passive way to de-stress. For others, hobbies are a means to socialize with friends and families.
Some active hobbies involve creating, interacting and expanding your skill set. They also have physical health benefits. Here are the 15 best recreational activities to try to improve your physical health.
Dancing can replace some of your hours in the gym. Moderate-intensity dance styles with fast-moving steps like salsa and hip hop are good cardio workouts. Meanwhile, waltz or tango may not be as heart-pumping, but they still require you to move every muscle. Regardless of your age or body size, dancing can make you fit. If you love to dance, switching between vigorous and slow dance styles is ideal for controlling the momentum of your moves.
The best thing about gardening is it can be a family affair. Yes — even your kids or senior parents can join in. It may look like a relaxing and enjoyable hobby, but it’s a low-impact physical activity. You burn calories every time you dig, pull the weeds, plant seeds and water them. Walking around the garden is also an excellent way to engage other parts of your body apart from the hands.
If you have yet to try hiking, this is a sign to give it a go. Americans are obsessed with hiking — nearly 59 million joined at least one hiking activity in 2021 and the number keeps growing. Hiking is an intense aerobic training that can help tone the muscles and strengthen the legs. You can also immerse yourself in nature when following the trail as a form of relaxation.
At first glance, photography may not look like an activity that requires movement. Although it’s more of a self-care hobby, the fact that you need to go outdoors to take beautiful shots of people or places is a form of exercise. For example, street photographers walk for hours to find and capture images of people in the street in their candid state.
5. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing combines strength, endurance and balance, making it a physically challenging hobby. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro athlete or climb mountains to enjoy this activity.
A less strenuous version — indoor rock climbing walls— provide an exhilarating experience for all levels. Remember climbing rock walls as a kid? This popular playground activity can benefit you as an adult by improving flexibility, coordination and cardiovascular flow.
If you want to reconnect with nature, camping is your choice. It’s good for the mind but even better for the body. You have to hike to reach the campground, collect and carry firewood, build a fire, set up a tent and cook your meals. Depending on the location, you can also couple other fun activities with camping, such as kayaking, riding and spelunking.
You know yoga best as a mindfulness practice, but it’s also an alternative movement activity. It can help tone your body, maintain a healthy weight and make you flexible. If you do it regularly, you’ll reap mental and physical merits. In addition, doing the poses can help minimize chronic pain conditions like arthritis, headaches and lower back pain.
If you’re looking for an adventure, get as much as you want with traveling. You don’t have to board a plane, but it’s more thrilling and memorable if you do it in a city you’ve never been to.
Traveling can blend almost all physical hobbies, including walking, hiking and camping. Exploring places can also build mental power and gain other brain benefits.
Spring and fall offer the best temperature for fishing. It’s advantageous for the body because you engage your entire physique to maintain your balance while fishing. Like gardening, it’s a low-impact hobby that lets you stay active.
Alongside fishing, diving is another water activity that lets you challenge yourself. When you enter the water, you work your core muscles, arms and legs to stay buoyant. Whether scuba diving or free diving, the activity combines cardio and a muscular workout, which helps build better heart health and muscle strength.
Some volunteering opportunities are physically demanding — for instance, ocean cleanups, helping seniors in your community and planting trees where you stay under the sun for hours. Besides the physical benefits, serving others through volunteering is great for your emotional and mental health. It makes you feel good about contributing and making a difference to the people around you.
If you’re into sports like tennis, volleyball or softball and play regularly, you can skip the gym. Many sports enthusiasts train in the sports ground.
Compared to gym workouts — where training targets one part of the body at a time — most sports will keep your entire body on the move. Volleyball will engage your arms, legs, back and shoulders, making it a whole-body training session. You can also join community sports leagues to socialize with others.
How is cooking on par with a workout? Lifting heavy pans, chopping vegetables, stirring ingredients, being on your feet for several minutes and moving around the kitchen consumes a lot of energy. This power comes from burned carbohydrates that fuel all these movements, so cooking is a decent exercise in the form of a hobby.
Walking is a classic do-anywhere exercise that makes you burn some calories. It’s even more fun if you do it with your fur buddy in the morning. Doing brisk walking for 30 minutes daily can help you achieve better memory, have a healthy heart and live longer.
What makes people love walking is its simplicity. You can walk anywhere wearing whatever outfit you have on. You can do variations, too, like power walking — a faster version of brisk walking — and race walking.
Cycling can make you healthy and happy. You can do it while exploring the neighborhood or new streets. Because you’re constantly pedaling at high intensity, it can elevate the strength of your hamstrings, calves, glutes and quads.
It’s also a form of aerobic training, so it boosts heart and lung health. If you need to shed some weight, this can be an exciting choice for a workout that’s safe for beginners.
Choose a Hobby That Involves Physical Activity
All hobbies can benefit you in one way or another. The activities above will help you develop body strength, flexibility and endurance. They also benefit your mental health as they help lower stress and improve your focus.
One important thing to remember when doing any hobby is safety. Whether you choose to cycle, travel or hike, stay on the safe side by following the safety precautions. If you’re doing an active hobby for the first time, make sure you partner with a fitness coach.