Just the act of singing provides a great workout for your heart and lungs. But joining a local choir or choral society means you'll also get the psychological benefits of being involved in a fun group activity and finding new friends. A study of a university choral society in the US found that 87 per cent of members felt they had benefited socially, and more than half said they felt their physical health had been given a boost.
Learning a new language
Learning to speak a new language doesn't just mean knowing what to order when you go on holiday. The mental processes involved gives your brain a 'workout', and could even help reduce memory loss in later life. And if you go to classes, you'll also make new friends.
There's a good reason why celebs like Geri Halliwell can't get enough of knitting - the repeated movements create a 'relaxation response' in your brain, according to the Mind/Body Centre for Women's Health in California, USA. This makes you calmer, happier and healthier.
Whether it's salsa, ballroom or an old-fashioned waltz, dancing gives you a great workout. And if you're dancing with a partner, it improves your co-ordination and co-operation skills (not to mention your love life!).
If you've ever dreamed about being the new JK Rowling, why not take the plunge and join a writing group? Expressing yourself creatively improves your mental well-being, boosts your confidence and could even lead to a whole new career.
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The perceived benefits of singing: findings from preliminary surveys of a university college choral society.
Clift SM, Hancox G.
Centre for Health Education and Research, Canterbury Christ Church University College
J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009 Jun;57(6):1132-3.
Community-dwelling elderly Japanese people with hobbies are healthier than those lacking hobbies.
Hirosaki M, Ishimoto Y, Kasahara Y, Kimura Y, Konno A, Sakamoto R, Nakatsuka M, Ishine M, Wada T, Okumiya K, Fujisawa M, Otsuka K, Matsubayashi K.
Kuslansky, Ph.D., Anne F. Ambrose, M.D., Martin Sliwinski, Ph.D., and Herman Buschke, M.D.