Hobbies beat medical appointments, drugs

Hobbies beat medical appointments, drugs by Bob Karolevitz Some 20 years ago I wrote a tongue-in-cheek column about how hobbies kept me so busy that I didn�t have time to go to work.

I was, according to my own words, a hobbyholic!

Now comes a new study which concludes that leisure activities are good for you. They reduce stress, the medics say, and that means your blood pressure is lowered, and you�re less likely to suffer a mental decline.

Well, what do you know? My many hobbies are good for something after all. They�re better than a trip to the clinic or a sojourn with a pharmacist.

Even The New England Journal of Medicine, that bible of doctors everywhere, has gotten into the act. The crossword puzzle I do every night � one of my hobbies, incidentally � is a �mind-boosting activity� which wards off the numbing of the brain, the magazine says.

Unfortunately, the drug companies are probably working on a pill to substitute for that evening challenge of mine. I could pop a pill and not have to worry about the root of the taro plant (49 across) and the Mongol emperor of India (25 down).

But I digress!

Phyllis�s hobby is her miniature horses, but mine doesn�t include cleaning out the barn or fussin� about feed. Of course, that kind of physical activity is healthy, another study shows. On the other hand, it might do something for you mentally, but it�s not good for the old bursitis.

My wife thinks my hobby should be my work. That way I could kill two birds with one stone (to coin an old cliche). It would beat bronzing baby booties, stringing macrame beads and raising mushrooms (which I never did).

She may just have something there. I like what I do, although every Monday morning it�s a challenge to come up with a subject to write about. It�s almost worse than knowing what the Nigerian monetary unit is (16 across) and who�s the mother of Cronus (54 down).

I suppose the researchers in their ivory towers � and with government grants � are able to prove that hobbies extend life, but they don�t know that polishing rocks, raising hydroponic tomatoes and pouring the wax for ornamental candles is hard work.

It�s conceivable that engaging in a labor of love might make you live longer, but Robert Burns (who wrote poetry) and George Gershwin (who composed great tunes) died before they were 40.

So I�ll take The New England Journal of Medicine article with a grain of salt (there�s another cliche), but hoping that it�s right.

I�ll continue to do my crossword puzzle, even though I have trouble with a Homeric character (104 across) and a heron�s kin in four letters (42 down).

I will concede that hobbies have healing powers, but I�m not about to cancel my doctor�s appointment, thank you.

I wonder if he reads The New England Journal of Medicine?

� 2003 Robert F. Karolevitz

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