The benefits of engaging in a hobby extend to hours, even days later. Zawadzki's study finds that people with hobbies continue to be happier and to experience lower levels of depression and negative feelings after practice ends.
"We're still talking about the short term, but there was a definite carryover effect later in the day," he says in a university publication. "If we start thinking about that beneficial carryover effect day after day, year after year, it starts to make sense how leisure can help improve health."
A separate study published in the The Society of Behavioral Medicine finds that that when people engage in a hobby, they show a lower heart rate, reduced stress, and more positive feelings.
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi says that being completely absorbed in an activity, what he describes as "flow," is the secret of happiness.
"When we are involved in [creativity], we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life," Csikszentmihalyi said during a TED talk in 2004. He cites years of research to back up his claim.