Behind the Lines Blog

5 Amazing Hidden Health Benefits of Coloring

Coloring books are often associated with young children, but there are now many adult coloring books available.  According to Fortune Magazine, with over 11,000 searches, coloring books made up two thirds of Amazon’s top 15 selling books in 2014. (source)

Doctors have published large amounts of research on the mental and physical health benefits of coloring for both adults and children.  Coloring is something you can do as part of the family or on your own in the office or at home. Best of all, coloring is great fun!

In this article, we will look at five of the health benefits associated with adult coloring books and hopefully, change the way you relax.


1. Coloring Can Relieve  Anxiety

It has been clinically proven that coloring can relieve anxiety, one of the most common mental health disorders.

Adult coloring books are often used to distract a person with anxiety from their worries and put them in a relaxed state of mind.  A groundbreaking 2005 study found that structured coloring can help create a relaxed state that benefits sufferers of anxiety.(source)

Adult coloring books can provide you with some much needed “me” time after the stress of a hectic day.  After coming home from the office or when the children have gone to bed, you can shut yourself off from the rest of the world with a coloring session.

Other mental health disorders such as depression or mild cases of schizophrenia have also experimented with coloring book therapies.  Many experts argue that coloring can help the mind distinguish between the rational and nonrational elements of life.

2. Coloring Can Reduce Cortisol Levels and Boost The Immune System

When we are suffering from anxiety, the adrenal cortex of the brain releases more of the stress hormone, cortisol.  Excess cortisol can suppress the immune system and reduce the level of white blood cells, making us more prone to illness.

When feeling stressed it is good to find some release – which is exactly the purpose of adult coloring books.  A short period of coloring every day might just help your body to fight that flu bug going round the office!

#3 Coloring Before Bedtime Can Help Improve Your Sleep

It’s very tempting to check your emails before going bed or watch a movie on your laptop to unwind.  Replacing your laptop, tablet or cellphone with coloring can help you avoid the blue light emitted by such devices that sabotages sleep.

A study by PNAS found that people who use an electronic device at night have more difficulty falling asleep.  They often get less REM sleep – the sleep phase most crucial to your health – and wake feeling sleepier than non-device users. (source)

#4 Coloring can Help to Reduce the Symptoms of Cancer 

Adult coloring books have been used as a therapy for cancer patients and are known to reduce much of the distress of treatment.  Many doctors find that cancer makes a person feel overwhelmed. Coloring can help relieve them of their worries and make it easier to continue their treatments.

The UC Davis Cancer Center offers adult coloring books to patients claiming they boost self-esteem and positive feelings.  Patients who took part in the coloring often responded better to treatment. (source)

#5 Coloring Can Help Fight The Effects of Old Age

Coloring could help improve your manual dexterity which decreases as you get older. By coloring on a regular basis, we alter the cerebral cortex of the brain that helps our coordination and motor functioning skills. The choice of colors we make can lead to us being more analytical and better at grasping new ideas.

Many experts argue that coloring can delay the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia but there is very little hard evidence.  What we do know is color helps the way the mind thinks and learns.

Somebody suffering from memory loss may color an image and associate it with an event they remember.  The image may help them to never forget that event.


Coloring books for adults may appear to be a new craze but experts have been recommending them for many years.  Famous psychiatrist Carl Jung was known to extol the benefits of coloring over 100 years ago.

Something we often did as children can have just as many benefits for us in adult life.  Even if it didn’t make us healthier many adults would still buy coloring books.  Coloring can be relaxing and fun which helps us deal with the stress of everyday life.  The other hidden health benefits of coloring are added bonuses.


Helen Sanders is chief editor at Established in 2012, Health Ambition has grown rapidly in recent years. Our goal is to provide easy-to-understand health and nutrition advice that makes a real impact. We pride ourselves on making sure our actionable advice can be followed by regular people with busy lives.