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The Health Benefits of Enjoying a Hobby

The Health Benefits of Enjoying a Hobby

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Guest Post by Dr. Chris Reynolds
Dean and Vice President, Academic Outreach and Program Development, APUS

Dr. Chris Reynolds has been a long-time faculty member, program director, dean, and vice president at APUS. His contributions to the university have been many, as have his contributions to his community as a Division Chief in the Hillsborough County, Florida Fire Department and to his country as a Lt. Col. in the Air Force Reserve. His words about hobbies are typical of Chris: encouraging and inspirational. I hope you get the hobby bug!

What do classic cars have to do with higher education? Well, after reading this blog article, I hope that you will come to the conclusion they have everything to do with higher education. We all have hobbies. Some people like to ski, go boating, or hike trails. Others hunt, fish, or do crafts.

clay lobster hobby
My clay lobster entry in a local fair. Image courtesy of the author.

My escape has always been tinkering with classic cars. Hobbies allow us to momentarily escape the mundane or routine and share one’s passion for the hobby with other enthusiasts. Hobbies generally attract a wide array of people who cross all socioeconomic lines. After all, it is the love of the hobby that keeps us coming back. There is something about turning wrenches, adjusting a carburetor, or tuning an engine that brings satisfaction. Working with one’s hands and getting them dirty is cathartic!

There is quite a bit of data that points to the health benefits of hobbies. In the January 2020 edition of Inside Higher Education, doctoral student Jordan McNeill published a wonderful article, “Get a Hobby!” He emphasized the importance of maintaining a work-life balance in graduate school, citing hobbies as one way to help maintain this balance. Hobbies allow one to have a “mental rest period” from the realities of career, family, and school.

Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia. – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

There are more tangible health benefits from our hobbies. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Participating in hobbies and other social and leisure pursuits may lower risk for developing some health problems, including dementia.” Hobbies relieve stress, as they allow you to focus on an enjoyable task, instead of a necessary task. Hobbies help improve one’s self-confidence by building mastery in your given hobby, which also helps boost self-esteem. Hobbies can help lower one’s blood pressure and stimulate the brain to release endorphins, which are the “feel-good” hormones that make you happy.

Chris and Lee Camaro hobbies
Chris and Lee in front of their 1967 Camaro SS/RS convertible.

Some hobbies – like running, hiking, biking, or skiing – all add a cardio component, which also increases one’s stamina and heart health. Other hobbies, like puzzles, art, reading, and journaling, stimulate the brain to improve memory or recall. Hobbies gives one a purpose to be creative, social, productive, and artistic! Increasing your emotional well-being through hobbies can help you better manage stress, by balancing work, family, school, and other competing activities. Hobbies actually help one find a healthy balance, which includes both physical and mental health. In today’s social media-crazy world, it is good to have something that doesn’t involve a smartphone!

I have two hobbies that I love. First are my classic cars, which allow me to spend quality time with my fellow classic car enthusiasts at car shows or cross-county cruises. My other hobby is working with clay. I recently had three of my pieces entered into the Florida State Fair. My advice to colleagues is to have a hobby. Do something that you enjoy that does not involve work. Remember, we all must maintain a healthy work-life balance if we are to be truly effective.

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In July 2016, he retired as APUS president and continued as CEO of APEI. In September 2017, he was reappointed APUS president after the resignation of Dr. Karan Powell. In September 2019, Angela Selden was named CEO of APEI, succeeding Dr. Boston who will remain APUS president until his planned retirement in June 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. During his tenure, APUS grew to over 100,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 90,000 alumni. In addition to his service as a board member of APUS and APEI, Dr. Boston is a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, a board member of the Presidents’ Forum, and a board member of Hondros College of Nursing and Fidelis, Inc. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. Dr. Boston lives in Owings Mills, MD with his wife Sharon and their two daughters.

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