Try something new this year! Pickleball is just one fun, social option that's gaining popularity with older adults.
The new year is a great time to make positive changes. There are so many new things to try that can add more fun, friends, and adventure to your life. The health benefits can be plentiful, as well.
The first step is to shush the voice in your head telling you what you should be doing or what you should enjoy. If something doesn't excite you, set it aside for now and try something else. What activities would you look forward to? What would shake things up in a way that brings you joy?
It's common to leave favorite hobbies behind as we take on adult responsibilities. You know those knitting needles buried under old mail or the tennis racket gathering dust in your garage? You're in good company if you've barely noticed that 20 years have passed since you last touched them.
As you begin to think about taking up new hobbies, you may find that the things you once enjoyed don't sound fun anymore—or even physically possible! So what now?
Don't get stuck on memories of your former water-skiing days, for example. While acrobatics off the back of a speedboat may no longer be feasible (and if they are, good for you!), it's likely that you can recreate some of the qualities you liked about that experience. Was it being on the water? Was it being physically active or spending time with friends? Make a list of the things you enjoyed about your previous hobbies. Don't edit yourself. Just get it all down, then read through your list and circle the words that still grab your interest.
Starting from there, read on to find suggestions for new things to try this year.
Do you like using your hands or working with tools? How about using your voice or telling stories? Creative arts bring more beauty into the world, with the added benefit of keeping your brain sharp. Older adults who take part in regular acting classes stand to improve their memory, comprehension, and problem-solving skills. Music, dance, and other creative activities may offer the same benefits.
Here are some ways to get creative—alone or in local classes and groups:
Games, puzzles, reading, and learning are ideal lifelong hobbies as you can do them alone or in groups, or even online. They also feed your brain in some unexpected ways. The National Institute on Aging says mentally stimulating activities may improve memory and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Get your brain buzzing by:
Your time and energy can make a real difference in so many lives. Think about groups or causes that matter most to you. Animals? Children? Politics? The environment?
You'll find an abundance of opportunities at:
National organizations such as VolunteerMatch.org can help match you with opportunities that meet your interests. Local churches are another great place to start.
Physical activity is good for us, from our brains down to the bones in our toes. Regular exercise can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia. Experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. Finding a daily walking group is a great solution, but why not try something totally new?
Fun, new things to try might include:
Now that you've got some ideas to pique your interest, start connecting with resources in your community. If you're interested in more social connection, invite a friend to join you. Perhaps you'd like to invite your dog along to your weekly hiking group. If your social calendar is too full already—honor that! Activities that offer more alone time may be just what you need.
Remember, this new year project isn't about what you should do . . . it's about what you want to do.
National Institute on Aging, Participating in Activities You Enjoy—More Than Just Fun and Games
National Institute on Aging, Preventing Alzheimer's Disease
American Academy of Family Physicians, Nourish Your Brain
AARP, Life Reimagined
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.