What Is a Hobby?

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A hobby is an activity outside a person’s normal work or school activities, which provides enjoyment, relaxation and personal growth. Hobbies are usually creative, fun and social. They can also be productive. Hobbies may be solitary in nature, such as knitting or painting, or they can involve interaction with others, such as choral singing or volunteering. The development of hobbies has been influenced by changes in lifestyle, technology and culture.

In the past, people who engaged in a hobby were often considered childish or trivial, but this began to change as industrialization gave many workers set leisure time and there was a rise in solitary pastimes. Hobbies are also often seen as a source of pride and self-esteem, as well as providing relief from stress.

Some hobbies are purely recreational, and involve collecting or observing objects or events. Examples include bird-watching, train or boat spotting, or photography. Other hobbies, such as gardening or cooking, are productive and have a practical benefit. These hobbies help reduce depression and increase a person’s resilience to stress.

People choose to take up hobbies based on a variety of factors, including their daily work or ambitions, past accomplishments and interests. Hobbies can be casual, which means they are infrequent or short-lived, or serious, which implies a high degree of commitment and dedication. Depending on the nature of the hobby, it can be expensive to acquire the necessary equipment or memberships. In some cases, people find that they are able to deduct hobby-related expenses from their income tax return.