Active Hobbies for Heart Health

One of the questions I often ask the audience in my education sessions is “Is the heart dependent on the brain for it’s pumping action?”

Well, what do you think?

Mind Heart Connection

The heart has its own automaticity and therefore does not depend on signals from the brain to do its work. However, we are all aware that there is a close relationship between our minds and our hearts. We often feel our hearts racing fast and thumping aloud especially in a stressful or fearful situation. And we also feel a calm spread across our chest and our heart beat in sync with our mood when we are happy and grateful.

These feelings are nothing but the result of the innumerable nervous and hormonal connections between the brain and the heart. In fact, this branch of medicine is called Behavioral Cardiology and is very much studied and researched in the present time.

Happy Chemicals

We now know that there are the happiness hormones such as dopamine, endorphin and serotonin and that these hormones are responsible for a lot of the feel-good phenomena associated with exercise and outdoor activities. If you have ever noticed, a session of brisk exercise like fast walking, jogging or running makes blood gush into your head, makes you feel confident and energetic, gives you clarity of thought and even helps you solve a crisis situation with a fresh outlook!

Active Hobbies

Think of which of these active hobbies resonate well with you…in other words, which of these do you think you would enjoy doing in your free time.

  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Skating
  • Rowing, Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Gardening
  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Pilates
  • Surfing
  • Walking
  • Team Sports like football, basketball, hockey etc.
  • Individual sports like badminton, tennis, squash etc.

This is clearly not an exhaustive list but should definitely give you an idea of what an active hobby is: it is an activity that you love engaging in and something that lets you loose track of time.

Make time

You might think that a hobby is meant to keep you occupied in your free time but the aim of this blog post is to impress upon you that an active hobby needs to be pursued frequently to have a positive impact on your heart as well as overall health. Yes, it simply means you have to make time for your active hobbies. You have to learn to carve some time out of your daily routine to engage in one or more of these energy-boosting activities. And this time is known fondly as “ME TIME”.

Here are some tips to start taking time out for a healthy activity:

  1. Plan ahead & delegate – if you already have your plate full and are just about able to complete your daily tasks before hitting the bed, see if you can delegate some of your work and plan in advance for the time requirement of your active hobby.
  2. Prioritise – if there is one thing you should do for yourself everyday, it is 30 minutes of brisk exercise. So, try to swap your TV time, social media time or general chitchat time for a quick outdoor activity.
  3. Follow your passion – even if it’s your best friend, don’t feel bad to let him/her know that your interests are different from theirs; because if and only if you are passionate about the hobby will you pursue it relentlessly.
  4. Reward yourself – don’t be too hard on yourself; instead, reward yourself for your efforts and attempts at changing your lifestyle. Simple things like talking about your achievement to your friends or taking a much needed break as a reward might work wonders in keeping your motivation up.
  5. Activity groups – in the long run, knowing that someone you care about is equally interested in the activity you enjoy will help you stay focused and involved. But remember, it is not a competition or a power game, but a simple energy-expending, mind-refreshing and health-boosting activity that needs your continuous time and effort.

Let me sign off here but I sincerely hope that you are already thinking about YOUR active hobbies and ways to pursue them on a REGULAR basis!