Ride a hobbyhorse to health | Sunday Observer

Ride a hobbyhorse to health

21 June, 2020

The word ‘hobby’ is derived from ‘hobby-horse’ which is a stick fitted with a wooden horse’s head ridden by children for amusement. We also ride our hobbies. In simple terms, a hobby is a kind of amusement in our leisure time. Strangely, what is a business to one man may be a hobby to another. For instance, a fisherman catches fish as his livelihood, but some people go fishing for amusement. Similarly, a photographer may have gardening as his hobby, and a gardener may engage in photography as a recreation.

In addition to photography, some people like to do sketching, painting and wood carving. For such hobbies, however, you need some artistic skills. Anyone can do carpentry or picture framing as hobbies.

Most people have hobbies. When we were children we used to collect stamps as a hobby, but today very few people are interested in it. Some children collect wild flowers and ferns, press them and mount them. Sometimes they collect old coins, fountain pens and picture postcards. Collecting fossils is a rare hobby, but there are many collectors of old books, rare paintings, and first-day covers. Some rich people collect antique furniture and old cars.

Sometimes hobbies take the form of games and sports. There are professional cricketers who play in test matches, but village children play cricket as a hobby. There are also many indoor games such as chess, draughts, and cards. In England fox hunting is a favourite hobby among members of the royal family.


Many people, mostly women, take to gardening as a hobby in a big way. They like to cultivate rare plants and flowers in addition to vegetables. Children love to have pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, and birds. Some kind of hobby is necessary to fill our leisure hours. Otherwise we become lethargic.

Sometimes we meet people who have no hobbies. A man who has no hobby does not know the good that is to be drawn out of life. A hobby is a happy medium between a passion and a monomania. A hobby is an antidote to modern life’s increasing tempo of activity. Unless you have a hobby, you cannot face the pressure you have at workplaces and home.

Even those who have hobbies may not know that a hobby is a pace-breaker that helps them to win the race of life and live long. All hobbies tend to improve health and happiness. As a child I used to collect stamps as a hobby. However, when I joined the Postal Department I was told that stamp-collecting was taboo for postal employees. So I had to give up one of my favourite hobbies. Then I started collecting rare books and they adorn my library today.


You should be careful in choosing a hobby that will add balance to your life. Your hobby should be able to take you out of the shell of boredom and elevate you into a world of external interests. Many modern-day diseases such as high blood pressure can be minimised with an enjoyable hobby. Although I do not ask anyone to take up fishing as a hobby for religious reasons, they can sit on the bank of a river and enjoy the serenity of the water flowing down to the sea. Water has a tremendous capacity to relieve our tired nerves.

Some people complain that they have no time for hobbies. They can take a leaf from Winston Churchill’s biography. As the war-time prime minister of Britain Churchill used to return home with a wrinkled brow. He relaxed his muscles by taking up a brush to paint. Rear Admiral H. Lamont Pugh, one-time surgeon general of the U.S, Navy said, “There are two places I’ve never heard of a man having a nervous breakdown. One is in a swimming pool while he is stretching his muscles; the other is in front of a fireplace while he’s stretching his soul.”

Today medical specialists and psychologists have realised the healing properties of hobbies. Hospitals in developed countries have occupational therapy departments where patients are taught crafts such as leather tooling, knitting, painting, woodcarving and weaving. Such activities can revitalise tired bodies and calm tense nerves.


Dancing is a popular past-time of many people all over the world. It is not exclusively for the young nor does it take place only in developed countries. Dancing appeals to different people for different reasons.

The body’s stamina can be built and muscles of various parts of the body become well-tuned through dance. As a hobby dancing helps people to release pent-up feelings and frustrations. You can dance in the privacy of your own room with the music in the background. Dancing is nothing new to us. Man has been dancing for thousands of years even before they could talk. The world’s great men in different fields too had hobbies.

Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882) who set forth the theory of Natural Selection as the means of evolution used to read novels as a hobby. He would frequently bless all novelists provided they wrote novels with happy endings. On the other hand, Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), whose name is associated with a dozen different devices in everyday use, had no hobbies. For some people running with headphones can be a hobby. This is because they do two activities at the same time: running and listening to music. Each person has to take an inventory of their lives to think about what type of hobby they should have. If you still cannot decide, seek help from your friends. A girl can use her mother’s sewing machine and sew her own dresses. Giving yourself freedom to explore different options is a great way to find a suitable hobby.


If you are staying at home, you can select a hobby such as watching television, listening to the radio, playing a musical instrument, dancing, reading books, cooking, or writing stories. If you wish to select an outdoor hobby, you can play cricket, football, badminton, enjoy swimming, or jogging. There are also many creative hobbies such as writing short stories and poems, taking photographs, painting, and bird-watching. Young people like to hang out with friends. Elderly people will enjoy spending their time with family members. Most women, of course, choose shopping as a hobby. For that you need a lot of money.

There are many games you can play at home. If you have access to a computer, the Hangman games are ideal. The first set of Hangman games is based on themes, the rest is based on word lists from the ‘Let’’s Go’ books.

There seem to be many unusual hobbies around the world. For instance, there are people who collect LP records. Some people take to gambling as a hobby, but they might end up as regular gamblers. Justin Bieber was born as a poor boy in a small town. His hobby was singing. Today he is a leading singer. Preserving tradition is a rare hobby such as decorating your house. When somebody asked George Takei what his hobby was, he said he didn’t have any but his grandmother had a great hobby. “What was that?” his friend asked. George said, “My grandmother lived for 104 years. She woke up every morning and told me that her hobby was collecting birthdays!”

Unusual hobbies

Burnout rates among physicians are at an alarming all-time high. Their satisfaction with work-life balance is also on the decline. Against such a bleak background some physicians have found a way out through unusual hobbies. Dr Michael Cho, a physician from Boston plays the violin and describes it as a “huge de-stresser.”

A UK-based physician – Dr Patrick – performs as a comedian. That is his hobby. Dr Kate Baker, another physician in the UK, knits teddies for special friends and family. In addition, she walks her puppy and does gardening. Dr Jeffrey E. Brown is a painter in her spare time. She says, “Some oil paintings provoke strong feelings of pleasure in me. I’m happy to continue riding the wave!” Dr Rebecca Mac Donell has turned to writing as a hobby. She says, “Writing essays and poetry offers a specific type of stress relief.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to take photographs in his free time. Besides using selfie tool at the time of campaigning, he was seen clicking pictures of a lion in Chattisgarh recently.  Even Dudley Senanayake, one-time Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, used to carry a camera wherever he went. Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, said to be the richest businessman in India, has a personal theatre at home to watch Hindi movies. He is also a fitness freak who participates in marathons. Indian cricket team captain M.S. Doni loves to ride bikes and collect super cars. He also enjoys travelling as a hobby. U.S. President Donald Trump uses his free time for golf.

If a hobby makes you over-fatigued, keep away from it. Nor is a hobby intended to be profitable. When you start getting money for what you do as a hobby, it becomes a business. A hobby should relax your mind. That is the ultimate purpose of any hobby.

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