HOBBIES AND
BRAIN HEALTH

Patient Story

Esper Escalante is a valued patient at Rancho Family Medical Group. She grew up in the Philippines and moved to San Diego, CA to start a new career with the San Diego Police Department. After 20+ years of working for the SDPD, she and her husband retired and moved to Temecula to be closer to her family and grandkids. When she retired, she found herself feeling malaise and a lack of motivation. She realized that her days were no longer filled with working, and she was lacking purpose or direction. That is when Esper decided it was time to dive into her favorite hobbies again: gardening and practicing Sudoku. Almost 20 years past retirement, she feels just as healthy and spry as the day she said goodbye to the SDPD. “At 81 years old, gardening is now my favorite thing to do. I wake up each morning and see what each of my plants need and how I can take care of them. I love the fresh air and the sunshine and my mood is always happy when I am in my garden,” says Esper. Being outside in a garden is great for seniors because it replenishes Vitamin D stores. Just make sure to use proper sun protection, like a big sun hat! Dr. Jamey Sotis, one of our primary care physicians at RFMG Sky Canyon, paid a visit to Esper to see her beautiful garden.

“Her garden is beautiful; you can tell a lot of time and effort went into making it this lush. I have no doubt that her passion for gardening has improved her vitality and quality of life.”

-Dr. Sotis

On top of being outside in her beautiful Temecula garden, Esper also likes to complete Sudoku puzzles. Sudoku is a logic-based number puzzle that uses critical thinking skills to solve. Esper loves Sudoku because it keeps her mind sharp. “I love to practice Sudoku in my garden, especially in the morning when it is not too hot. Sudoku keeps me busy and sometimes I even like to sit and do it with my friends!” says Esper. You can find a Sudoku puzzle book like Esper’s at your local grocery store, book store, or on Amazon!

Health Benefits

Stimulates the Brain
Hobbies are not only great for fulfillment and purpose, but they help keep our minds sharp! Brain stimulation can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. As we age and retire, we stop using parts of our brain that saw constant stimulation throughout the years. Some hobbies that particularly help with stimulation are playing instruments, reading, exercise, learning a new language, cooking and mediation. Each of these hobbies contribute to building a new skill which in turn challenges your brain and helps keep the mind sharp.

 

Encourages Deeper Relationships
Exercise is a wonderful hobby for building connections throughout your community. Twice a week Rancho Family offers a Senior CrossFit class at CrossFit by Overload on Eastman Drive in Murrieta exclusively for their senior patients! While there’s obvious health benefits to exercise, it can also help our patients to gain a sense of community and help develop new friendships which adds a measure of accountability to help maintain a strong exercise routine. We have seen immense growth and wonderful connections made throughout the CrossFit class, there is always a sense of comradery and connection between each of the attendees. We have also seen incredible growth and connections made in our Crochet and Knitting club. Twice a week at our Sun City office located on Sun City Boulevard, the group meets to connect and crochet together. If you have questions about all of the senior classes offered at RFMG, you can call Nichole, one of our Community Reps, at 951-225-6808.

Promotes Self-Development
Self-development is working to continue mental growth and gaining knowledge. Throughout our lives we experience self-development through our work, marriage, parenthood, and even as we become grandparents. When we retire, it only makes sense we feel we are lacking some purpose or drive. Our bodies and minds have been trained to grow and gain knowledge throughout the span of our entire lives, why would we stop that growth after retirement? Hobbies can help fill in the gaps in our schedules but also can help continue that self-development by learning and building new skills. Here are a few fun skill building hobbies to help challenge your brain: drawing, cooking, playing an instrument, magic and illusion, creative writing and trivia.

Great for Stress Relief
Stress can contribute to several illnesses including insomnia, depression, eating disorders and anxiety. Having a hobby can be its own form of self-care. It is important to build time for ourselves to let off some steam by participating in a stress-free activity we enjoy. Many find comfort in gardening as it gets us closer to nature, helps our bodies get the necessary vitamin D and gives us a chance to get some fresh air! Whether you start a hobby to gain knowledge or to grow closer to a loved one, a natural byproduct of that hobby will be stress relief which is beneficial to our overall health.

Improves Confidence and Self Esteem
Another benefit of picking up a new hobby is that as we learn and build a new skill our brain rewards us by increasing its dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our brains that helps facilitate achievement and goal-oriented behavior. This is the reason we feel proud of ourselves after achieving a goal or overcoming a challenge. When we achieve our goals, it helps to improve our confidence and raise our self-esteem. Challenging yourself to learn a new skill or hobby can help give you the motivation and drive to achieve bigger and better goals!

Who We Are

We are family physicians serving south Riverside county with the highest quality of care. Rancho’s goal is to approach medicine differently by offering more cohesive care and education that extends beyond the four walls of the exam room. We do not just make suggestions and write prescriptions, we have taken steps to improve the health of our patients. Our family physicians have developed educational content that empowers their community to make healthy lifestyle changes.  We also have free senior centers for our patients 65 and older that are full of exercise and nutrition classes as well as full online courses teaching a wide variety of health topics. We pride ourselves on going beyond the exam room to make our community healthier and happier.

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