As we age it can become all too easy to fall into the habit of slumping in our favourite chair in front of the telly…
It’s easy. It’s familiar. We don’t have to think about it.
BUT…that sort of inactivity of both brain and body simply isn’t good for us. Have you ever seen someone retire as a physically fit individual and then seem to almost ‘shrink’ into retirement?
Keeping your brain and body active is the best way to ensure you don’t become ‘old before your time’, and one of the easiest ways to do so is to take up a hobby or craft.
- Did you have a passion for drawing when you were younger?
- Perhaps you were handy with a needle and thread or were a good knitter/expert at crochet.
- Maybe you were skilled at DIY or woodwork.
- Whatever it was that you used to enjoy in the past consider picking it up again.
Benefits of having a Hobby
- Believe it or not, studies have shown that having hobbies at any age can have a positive effect on your immune system. Keeping your mind alert by practicing a hobby you are already familiar with or taking up a new one, has a positive effect on your overall well-being which helps your immune system.
- Many crafts and hobbies, although solo activities, often have groups and clubs associated with them. Going along to one of those has the added benefit of lessening any feelings of social isolation (as well as being somewhere to share your knowledge and experience or learn new ones).
- Practicing your hobby/craft will also have a great impact on cognitive abilities…you are using your brain as well as your hands and, in many instances, you are relying on memory recall.
- Doing something you enjoy reduces stress levels.
- Being good at something (or getting better at doing something) is a great self-esteem boost.
- You may even find your sleep improves if you are more active both mentally and physically.
What sort of Hobby?
We’ve alluded to a few above but there are literally thousands of things you could do, either picking up on something you are already familiar with or being daring and trying something brand new.
In no particular order…
Golf – there’s obviously a cost involved in this, although there are a few public golf courses around where you can hire clubs etc if you don’t have your own. You can even book lessons.
- Outdoor exercise
- Your social life will improve
- Improve/maintain strength and flexibility
Dancing – from ballroom to ballet, disco to dubstep (no we’re not sure what that is either!) there is a dance out there for everyone.
- Music is good for you
- Increased heart rate and improved stamina and flexibility
- You’ll improve your social life.
Swimming – there are lots of swimming pools around and many offer ‘over 55’ sessions and classes. As swimming is a non-weight bearing exercise it’s good for even those with mobility issues.
- Exercise is good for you
- Increased heart rate and improved stamina and flexibility
- You may meet other swimmers and form friendships
Gardening – if you have a garden getting outside and keeping it in good order is great for your physical and mental health. If you don’t have a garden, why not offer to help someone who does?
- Fresh air
- Physical exercise
- Nurturing plants is good for you!
Walking – the easiest way to get fitter and out and about. All you need is some decent shoes, a route to follow (even if only round the block) and a bit of time. Look out for walking groups too.
- You’ll get fitter
- It will get you out of the house
- You may improve your social life…if you can find a group to join
Of course, there are plenty of other physical type activities you could get involved in, but what if you are housebound?
Crafts and Non-Physical Hobbies
Whilst we are busy working or raising a family it can sometimes seem impossible finding the time to take up new hobbies (or even to continue with ones we already have). In later life however, one thing you do have is free time…use it wisely.
If you gave up a hobby (for whatever reason) resurrect it – you may still have all the ‘stuff’ you need to get straight back into it.
Perhaps you fancy trying something new? Ask friends and relatives for some suggestions – they may have ideas that you haven’t thought about.
Here’s a few ideas for you.
Knitting - this is something which seems to have become ‘fashionable’ again over recent years with high profile young celebrities being pictured needles and yarn in hand. This article in The Guardian has some weird and wonderful ideas for ‘creative’ knitting – you can of course stick to knitting jumpers too!
- Knitting is great for hand to eye co-ordination
- You will be producing something, useable or decorative
- It can help your mental health
Embroidery/sewing/needlecraft – just like knitting, sewing skills are making a comeback and because of TV programmes like ‘Sewing Bee’ more and more of us are trying to making our own clothes.
You’ll need a sewing machine to start dressmaking (or shirt making) plus patterns, threads etc – so it may be an expensive hobby to start up. There are places like this shop in Sheffield which offer classes and workshops.
Embroidery and other needlecrafts may be a cheaper option – although you will obviously still need materials. If you are lacking in the design department, then you can purchase ‘embroidery/tapestry/cross stich kits – which come (usually) with the outlines printed on the fabric plus all the necessary threads etc.
- Embroidery is great for hand to eye co-ordination
- Making (or maybe altering) clothes could be a money saver
- Needlework can be soothing and relaxing
Scrapbooking – is something a little bit different, a personalised way to display cherished photographs for example. A scrapbook will make most of us think back to childhood, but there is a growing interest in the craft, which involves so much more than simply sticking your photographs and other memorabilia into an album.
Take a look at this website which includes all the different skills and crafts which could be incorporated into creating a scrapbook, for example – calligraphy, decoupage, embossing and many others.
- You could create a ‘family heirloom’
- Learning new skills is great for the brain
- A great hobby to have when the weather is awful!
Whittling and Carving – have you ever thought about making something out of wood (we don’t mean a piece of furniture!)? There is a difference between whittling and carving – with the former you use only a knife, whereas carving requires the use of different tools, including powered ones.
Take a look here for some ideas on how to create some (relatively) easy projects.
- Great for hand to eye co-ordination
- Being creative is good for the brain
- Working with wood is therapeutic and relaxing
Music – whether that means simply listening to your favourite tracks or playing an instrument, music is definitely good for the soul!
Many of us harbour a secret longing to play an instrument, perhaps older adulthood is a good time to take those guitar or piano lessons you always promised yourself?
- Listening to music reduces stress and anxiety
- Learning to play an instrument is good for your brain health and has been shown to improve cognitive abilities
- Taking music lessons can be a way to make new friends
We hope we have given you a few ideas of hobbies and pursuits which could help you both physically and mentally.
Remember, if you have access to the internet, there are lots of ‘how to’ videos available to help you start or develop your hobbies.