Hobby ideas for the over 55s
12 October 2021
Taking up a new hobby can bring numerous benefits, from improved physical and mental health to greater companionship.
As we settle into later life, it’s easy to assume our existing hobbies are the only ones worth pursuing. Yet discovering a new pastime or activity can be energising and inspiring. Hobbies are often highly social in nature, introducing us to new people and places. Many also have the added bonus of improving mental acuity and/or physical fitness, countering our tendency to adopt an increasingly sedentary lifestyle as we get older.
There’s a world of choice out there in terms of new hobbies, but we’ve broken down the options into a few main categories, starting with perhaps the most obvious one…
There’s often an assumption that sporting activities need to be strenuous, especially in an Olympics year. Yet, take, for example, walking football which is far from exhausting – and it’s bound to leave you with a huge smile on your face. Swimming remains a uniquely effective form of exercise at any age, while other watersports like kayaking and canoeing are rapidly growing in popularity. If you’re looking for an ideal winter sport, try curling – it’s a very sociable and enjoyable game enjoyed by all ages, and keeps you fit!
If the prospect of sport seems daunting, there are plenty of fitness activities which will build stamina without risking muscle strains. Nordic walking is a full-body workout which uses poles for added support, while non-competitive cycling exploded in popularity during lockdown. Fitness classes (in particular tai chi and aqua aerobics) are an evergreen option.
Think colleges and night school are for the young? Think again. Adult learning courses cover topics aimed at all ages, from cooking and car mechanics to photography and pastels. Courses usually run in the evenings, so people with day jobs can attend. Mental stimulation minimises memory loss, and language courses are ideal places to meet like-minded people.
The popularity of TV shows like MasterChef reflects our national love of cooking, yet millions of people have always been intimidated by their kitchens. Self-assembly boxes from Gousto and Hello Fresh help to introduce new knowledge and skills, while meal plans and ingredient experimentation open up new worlds. You can even grow your own ingredients.
As we get older, we’re more likely to become fascinated by our origins. Websites including Ancestry and FreeBMD provide an ideal starting point for genealogy research, tracing our family trees and tracking down ancestors. It’s possible to spend years researching your family’s past, and some people have met relatives as a result of this engrossing pastime.
Even if the home computer and games console booms passed you by, it’s not too late to get into gaming. The Nintendo Wii was the first all-ages games console, even used by the Queen, while smartphones place a million titles in your pocket. App stores are packed with games ranging from racing and strategy titles to level-up games like Candy Crush and Bejewelled.
Social media has a great deal to commend it. Photo-based platforms like Instagram and Flickr let people show off their homes, gardens and trips out, while Reddit supports endless long-form debate. Twitter allows us to interact with public figures, and Facebook’s ubiquity means you’re bound to know people already on it.
It’s worth reiterating that many hobbies are inherently social in nature. You wouldn’t have much fun playing chess against yourself, whereas joining a local club introduces you to other people (many of them probably inspired by watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix – another endlessly evolving source of entertainment). Coffee mornings, exercise classes and book groups are examples of hugely popular community groups, with the latter especially prevalent at the moment. And if you can’t tell a modem from a monitor, computing courses are the perfect way to learn about the internet – and the wealth of hobbies and pastimes hosted online.