When you see seniors portrayed in movies they are often pursuing stereotypical “senior” hobbies like Scrabble, shuffleboard and bingo. But “real” seniors today are more likely to embrace hobbies like Pilates, gourmet cooking, acting or volunteering — activities that provide adults opportunities for physical, mental and emotional growth and development.
Take a look at how active seniors are redefining and extending their later years.
For many people juggling jobs and families leaves little time for pursuing creative hobbies. That’s why many retired seniors embrace hobbies such as music, painting, pottery, sculpting or photography. Art hobbies such as painting, photography or pottery can be for individual enjoyment, gift-giving or even generate some extra income.
Did you know that dancing can actually make you smarter? It’s true. A study by the National Institute on Aging found that dancing can actually improve brain function in seniors, and in fact, the more complicated the steps the better for your brain. Dance studios offer Latin, ballroom and swing dancing classes for couples, but you can also find fitness dancing classes such as Zumba at many health clubs and gyms.
All the stooping, bending, lifting and digging that go along with gardening can actually improve your health. And when you combine growing your own vegetables with cooking up all that fresh food, seniors can get a double bonus for their health. County extension offices, organic food stores, local chefs and even farmer’s markets offer classes for healthy cooking that can lead to an enjoyable new hobby.
Exercise for seniors isn’t limited to walking the dog. New classes specifically for seniors in Pilates and yoga provide exercise that strengthens core muscles, improves flexibility and reduces stiffness. Many have adaptations of traditional moves that don’t require getting down on the floor and have props for additional balance or even exercises that can be done in a chair.
Many community programs and non-profit agencies assert that one of their most valuable assets is a core of indispensable senior volunteers. Helping others provides seniors with physical activity and can be emotionally uplifting as well. While seniors often volunteer at churches, agencies and hospitals, service to one’s own family can be just as rewarding. Babysitting grandchildren, tutoring neighbor children, providing rides, meals and dog walking can be beneficial physically and emotionally.