Interests for everyone

Interests for everyone

I’d imagine that most people have interests even if they don’t specifically call them this. We could refer to them as hobbies, past-times, likes, passions and so on. Some might be fleeting or come and go at different life stages, while other interests could last throughout our lives. There are so many different types and combinations of interests, all contributing to our uniqueness. Through the Age Life Balance blog we’ll focus on those that are popular or become more relevant as we age. One way of classifying these could be as outdoor, indoor and personal developmental interests: there could naturally be overlaps between them. Given the unpredictable nature of the weather sometimes, it’s probably a good idea to have some of each to enjoy in all seasons.

Get outdoors

Outdoor interests could include activities such as walking, football, cycling, swimming, golf, tennis or fishing, and are often a continuation from earlier in life. However, sometimes these may only become accessible with increased leisure time or disposable income. Most activities can probably be started at any age, given the right resources, some coordination and most of your faculties. With a mixing of social groups, they sometimes also build or enhance relationships between different generations.

Enjoyment of the outdoors can be something in most people’s reach and can be performed or initiated at any age. People of all ages can enjoy running, hiking, gentle walks or if mobility is an issue, being taken out in a wheelchair. These pastimes could be intertwined with other activities that aren’t as physical such as dog walking, birdwatching, or discovering new places. The time spent on supporting a charity can also be very rewarding.

Many of these outdoor activities can be done with others – helping to enhance social interaction and building bonds – as well as combatting loneliness, enhancing mindfulness, and reducing stress.

Stay indoors

Some indoor activities we adopt as younger adults (or even as children) while some activities we take up later in life. We can often feel compelled to learn a new skill, fill time voids (like the word pastime suggests) or to join a club to make new friends.  Some popular activities include arts and crafts, performing arts, cooking and baking, making or listening to music, playing games, reading, historic research and photography, the list is endless. Many of these activities can be enjoyed alone, often in the comfort of your own home, whereas others can be performed in groups or as part of a community. Communities are important to tap into for support, ideas or simply as a witness to your own progress.

Personal Development

Another category we will explore is personal development. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I believe this is more mindset than age related. Whether learning something completely new, improving existing knowledge or revisiting an old skill, all are possibilities. Your challenge could be a mental one, such as learning some phrases in a new language before a holiday, reading a historical account or novel, or doing a daily crossword or even just a Sudoku puzzle. Alternatively, it could be a physical self-challenge, such as trying a new activity, bettering previous sporting records or simply walking a bit further every day. You could also aim to keep pace with technological changes, current affairs, topical subjects or celebrity news, so you can maintain an active mind or keep up in social interactions.

Interests with benefits

As I mentioned in the Mind intro, you will probably have skills to share that could benefit others. The possibilities are wide-ranging, but classic examples include gardening, cooking, knitting, sports coaching, acting as a governor or treasurer or using other skills acquired from your interests or working life. Benefits to others include getting some free advice or a service from you. One big word of warning if you are going to offer your advice though: this needs to be perceived as helpful and valuable to others and not as interference or domineering! Ensure that the intention is well understood by all parties upfront and that communication remains open throughout. If it doesn’t work out, try not to not take it personally – maybe they just weren’t ready for you or it – there may be others that are! Be ready for a polite rejection.

Whatever your interests, there are likely to be benefits that you can reap in terms of strength, flexibility, cognitive powers, memory recall, social reaction, maintaining skills or knowledge current, social interaction and having a sensing of purpose – all of which contribute to successful ageing. Unless you spend all day everyday sat in a chair, watching TV! I appreciate there may be times when this is all you can do e.g. due to sickness, injury, or recovery. If this is the case, the you could watch some of amazing educational documentaries, read a book or listen to an audio-book as alternatives.

We all acknowledge that not all activities will be of interest or accessible to all – for reasons of time, cost, physical disability, or availability. However, there are enough resources available on the internet to inspire us to find something suitable and accessible. Some interests and activities will require special tools or equipment (and maybe specialist skills or advice to get you started) while others will be able to be picked up from scratch, or from your past, with little effort. I challenge you all to think about your interests today and do something different this year – who knows where this could lead!


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