THE GOLDEN YEARS: MAKING THE GOOD TIMES COUNT
Hobbies are important at any age. More than just a fun way to pass the time and prevent boredom, hobbies boost our mental and emotional health. When we participate in hobbies with friends, we increase our social circle.
More than any other age group, seniors could perhaps benefit the most from regularly participating in a favorite hobby. As it turns out, research has shown a correlation between hobbies, life’s purpose, and a longer lifespan - particularly in individuals over the age of 65 years.
Strikingly, a recent study showed that men above the age of 50 only experience significant mental and emotional health benefits from hobbies, cultural activities, exercise or sports “when conducted ‘with others’.” By comparison, women are able to experience the mental and emotional benefits of hobbies whether they participate by themselves or with friends.
This is especially true for those who are recovering from alcoholism or addiction. According to DrugRehab.org, “one of the hardest parts of being in recovery is feeling like you’re alone, or feeling uncomfortable around others while you’re in a fragile emotional state. Having a hobby can help you set the tone of your social encounters as well as keep them short and sweet; make a date with a friend to go for a swim or head to a DIY pottery class together.”
Here are some suggestions for fun new skills that any senior could learn, whether alone or with a group of friends:
According to Altaram Institute, physical activities such as swimming offer “a multitude of benefits” for the Baby Boomer generation. Swimming can be a particularly great choice. Australian researchers recently found that swimming helps older adults reduce their chances of falls and injuries.
Swimming is low-impact, which means it improves heart and lung function while being gentle on your joints. If you’re not up for swimming laps, you might consider taking a class such as water aerobics. Water aerobics can be a safe (and fun) way to get some exercise at any age, including those who have arthritis or previous injuries. Because instruction is provided in a class setting, you’ll be able to bring a friend with you - or make new friends with the familiar faces you’ll see each week!
2. Art and Crafts
Arts and crafts are excellent choices for fulfilling, creative hobbies. Some people prefer to teach themselves by reading books, watching videos, or simply experimenting in the comfort of their own home.
If you’re looking to expand your social circle, you might consider taking a class. As mentioned above, DIY pottery and painting classes can be a great way to broaden your social circle, unleash your creativity, and have a bit of fun.
Games can be fun for people of any age. From board games to card games, from Sudoku to word puzzles, there are so many options to choose from that there’s certainly something for everyone. Games stimulate cognition and improve memory, which can help fight Alzheimer’s as we age. In addition to improving neural pathways, these types of games help relieve your mind from your daily stresses.
From boosting your mood to preventing dementia, there are many reasons to take on a new hobby. Regardless of age, you’ll enjoy learning new skills whether by yourself or with friends.
Article Written By Julie Morris for Meridian Counseling