I see many patients who have been involved in car accidents. They come to us with various symptoms of whiplash like neck pain, headache and Low back pain. One of the questions I typically ask during our history and examination is: “What type of hobbies and activities do you enjoy doing?”. This an important question because many times our lives and our patterns of activity can be altered by injury and we may often stop doing the things we enjoy due to pain, discomfort and inconvenience.
In a recent study published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine titled “Association of Enjoyable Leisure Activities With Psychological and Physical Well-Being” it was determined that hobbies and pleasurable leisure activities can affect our health. Using the Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test (PEAT) they found that people who participated in hobbies and other leisure activities had higher PEAT scores which are associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol (Stress Hormone), smaller waist circumference and better body mass index (BMI). The higher PEAT scores also correlate to higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower depression levels and negative affect.
You may not be able to jump right back into your favorite activities right after a car accident or whiplash type injury. Talk to your doctor about what activities are appropriate based on your current capabilities. For me, fishing is one of my favorite activities. After my accident, with ankle surgery and other challenges it was difficult to get out and fish and I feel it really affected me. I am so grateful today to be able to wade my favorite rivers and spend time outdoors doing what I love now that I am fully recovered. Take the time to find great activities and hobbies to help you feel great and relieve stress when you are recovering from an auto accident injury – you’ll be glad you did!
Psychosom Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2010 May 4.
Published in final edited form as:
Psychosom Med. 2009 Sep; 71(7): 725–732.
Published online 2009 Jul 10. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978