Hobbies are, by definition, things we do for the sheer pleasure of it. But just because hobbies are fun, doesn't mean they don't have other benefits too.

Studies show engaging in any sort of creative pursuit from cooking to playing guitar boosts work performance, while other research reveals that certain common pastimes actually make you smarter. Meanwhile, any sort of physical activity is great for your mental and physical health.

With all these benefits, it's no surprise that even the hugely successful and wildly busy make time for hobbies. Which passions do they pursue specifically? Business Insider recently rounded up a list of famous people's hobbies (who knew that Meryl Streep knits?). There are some entrepreneurs on the list but the cool post inspired me to dig around and find out what more business icons do in their free time.

1. Richard Branson

We've all seen photos of the Virgin founder engaged in various adventurous activities like kitesurfing, but Branson's absolute favorite pastime is surprisingly quiet. "I think chess may just be the best game in the world," he has written on Virgin's blog. "It combines the greatest aspects of many different sports--tactics, planning, bravery and risk-taking--plus you can have a cup of tea and often a stimulating conversation while you play!"

2. Jack Dorsey

It's doubtful that Dorsey has all that much free time while running Twitter and Square simultaneously, but when he does have a moment to spare he spent it out of doors. Dorsey dedicates each Saturday to hiking he told one tech conference, BI reports.

3. Peter Thiel

Another outdoorsy tech guy, Thiel enjoys hiking and surfing, he told Forbes.

4. Bill Gates

The Microsoft founder turned philanthropist is an avid bridge player. Apparently, it was billionaire Warren Buffett, another big fan of bridge, who re-introduced him to the game and got him hooked on playing.

5. Warren Buffett

Speaking of Buffett, Forbes reports the Berkshire Hathaway CEO "has a love for the ukulele that spans decade." He once said he learned to play in order to impress a girl. Do you think it worked?

6. Marc Benioff

The same article reveals the Salesforce CEO is a dedicated practitioner of zen meditation. "He began meditating to help relieve stress," the magazine reports and has since become an outspoken advocate of medication.

7. Marissa Mayer

An obsessive baker, Mayer applies a CEO's rigor to her cupcakes. The Yahoo boss "bought an array of cookbooks to study the cupcake recipes in each, created a spreadsheet for the ingredients, and then tested the recipes before writing her own? (She made another spreadsheet for frosting)," reports San Francisco Magazine.

8. Sergey Brin

In addition to being one half of one of technology's most famous founding teams, Brin is also apparently an amateur acrobat.

"In 2009, he was spotted in an advanced class at Circus Warehouse, a training facility near the border of Queens and Brooklyn in New York City. Greg Roberts, a San Francisco native who had flown out to New York to participate in an immersive Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatic yoga program at the facility, recognized Brin on the second day of class," reports a separate Business Insider post on the Google founder's penchant for high-octane athletic pursuits.

9. Elon Musk

Though Musk's ex-wife claimed in a New York Times interview that the Tesla and SpaceX founder has no time for hobbies, he clearly has interests, including James Bond memorabilia. In 2013, Musk spend nearly $1 million on a Lotus Esprit driven by 007.

"It was amazing as a little kid in South Africa to watch James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me drive his Lotus Esprit off a pier, press a button and have it transform into a submarine underwater. I was disappointed to learn that it can't actually transform. What I'm going to do is upgrade it with a Tesla electric powertrain and try to make it transform for real," he joked at the time. (Or at least I think he was joking. Musk might just be crazy and competent enough to do it for real.)

10. Sandy Lerner

The Cisco co-founder is so dedicated to her unusual hobby of jousting (yes, as in knights on horses) that she bought a Virginia farm to raise horses specifically for this purpose. She apparently pursues this passion while dressed in period costume.

11. Steve Wozniak

Apple's co-founders may once have connected through a shared love of Bob Dylan bootlegs, but apparently Steve Wozniak has a new hobby these days. According to multiple sources, his current favorite pastime is Segway polo.

12. Nathan Myhrvold

A former Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft and current co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, Myrhvold may not be the mostly instantly recognizable name on this list but he won himself inclusion with a fabulous pair of hobbies -- dinosaur material collecting and modernist cooking. He's even the author of several award-winning cookbooks.

Published on: Jul 20, 2016