Adult coloring books are appearing by the droves at bookstores and craft stores, on and even from the Home Shopping Network.

The designs in the books appeal to every interest — from whimsical doodles to nature scenes and fantasy worlds.

Why would adults color? What kind of benefits can adults receive from a childhood activity?

Coloring not only evokes happy memories of childhood; the act can also foster a sense of well-being and offer a relaxing respite from our digital world. Crafters have known this intuitively for years.

But an accumulation of research shows that these creative activities can help you de-stress from everyday pressures. Recent studies suggest that structured, rhythmic endeavors such as coloring, knitting, crocheting or quilting are particularly beneficial because they ease you into a meditative state of mind that allows you to push away negative thoughts and worries.

“These activities engage your hands as well as your mind and your focus,” says art therapist Lacy Mucklow, the author of several best-selling Zen-themed coloring books. “Plus, the repetitive actions release serotonin, the brain transmitter responsible for relaxation.”

Numerous studies have looked into how crafting benefits mood and physical health. In a 2006 study co-sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and several federal health agencies, researchers found that adults 65 or older who engaged in creative activities such as making jewelry, painting or writing had better overall health, made fewer visits to the doctor, used less medication and had fewer health problems than non-crafters.

Stress reduction is a top reason Cathy Simocko-Smith, 59, a professional gardener in Bridgeport, Conn., enjoys coloring. “Coloring at night while I’m watching TV helps quiet my mind,” she says. “I can really lose myself in it, and it stops me from thinking about my work and the stresses in my life.”

Interested in trying some coloring? The Lexington Senior Center, 1530 Nicholasville Road, offers time from 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Mondays and from noon to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays to join other seniors in this creative, relaxing activity. Coloring books and colored pencils are provided.

Call (859) 278-6072 for more information.