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#896516 07/15/15 12:53 PM
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I am always surprised to hear about people's hobbies or lack thereof, that is, I have noticed how many people really don't have hobbies outside of work. I feel sad about that because as we age we really need to develop enjoyable ways to spend our time in retirement.

I wrote this article based on recent research about hobbies that I found very interesting. I would enjoy hearing from you about the hobbies you enjoy, about the ones you took along with you as you grew older and/or which ones you developed as new hobbies as you aged.

Here's the article on hobbies:

Hobbies are Good for Health

Throughout our busy lives, many of us noted other people who have had these really interesting hobbies, and said to ourselves, “I’d love to do something like that, but I just don’t have time.” Some of us were lucky enough to have interests and hobbies that we brought with us to older age. And still others keep working even though they’d like to retire, because they aren’t sure how to spend their free time or how to find a hobby niche.

Exploring options for a hobby can be enjoyable if we approach it in the right frame of mind. Sometimes we think that we wouldn’t be good at an activity, like playing an instrument, so we don’t even give it a chance. We shouldn’t give up, since studies show that if we choose hobbies that are mentally and physically challenging, we can enhance our health and quality of life.

Denise Parks, PhD, co-director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Vital Longevity conducted some valuable studies on the benefits of active hobbies. She comments, “It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something unfamiliar and mentally challenging. When you are inside your comfort zone, you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”

There are numerous hobby choices that will keep us mentally and physically in shape. Just a few are listed here, and some in combination will keep our minds astute and our bodies toned:

•Birdwatching. Visiting parks, walking, reading and remembering information from research, all are part of bird watching.

•Digital photography. This hobby requires recollection of specific verbal instructions as well as reasoning to figure out how to use the camera and photo editing software.

•Live theater. Moving around, working with sets, memorization, and self-expression are all part of theater work.

•Quilting. Using computerized sewing machines demands reasoning and abstract thinking to create patterns.

•Ballroom dancing. Enjoying great music, exercising, and socializing are all part of ballroom dancing.

•Volunteering at a nature center. Walking, bending, planting, and more are some of the activities at wildlife preserves.

Many courses are offered at local colleges and senior centers that help explore options for an enjoyable hobby. Taking classes keeps our minds sharp and can introduce us to a potential long term activity that will benefit our brain and body.

I enjoy gardening, ballroom dancing, volunteering, writing, reading mysteries,and cooking. It's great to be able to combine exercise with a hobby and continue to learn while volunteering.

Through our hobbies, we can nurture our creative side with unexpected results. Grandma Moses abandoned embroidery because of arthritis. She told reporters that she turned to painting in her 70’s in order to create the postman's Christmas gift!

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I think gardening is a great way to exercise, add beauty to our environment, and to appreciate nature and the outdoors. Some of my friends have butterfly gardens or grow plants specifically to attract hummingbirds. They love the idea of combining a hobby with exercise and a way to enhance their natural environment.

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A friend of mine who never liked to cook and was saying she was bored just completed a cooking course at a local junior college "for a lark." She liked it so much that she now booked herself on a trip to Italy for a cooking course in Florence! She also invited us to her home to experience one of the dishes she learned to cook in her initial cooking class.

Wow. She claims this new hobby has changed her life and brought adventure, learning and more social experiences to her on a daily basis. Her quality of life greatly improved just because of one class! We have to keep in mind that sometimes it doesn't take much to get exposed to something new that can turn our lives around and bring us much joy.

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I think music is another area of interest that can bring us much joy - whether it is learning to play an instrument or studying a certain era of music that we love.

I'd like to learn to play the guitar and bought one at a thrift store -- but I never took lessons. I've had the guitar for years, I'm embarrassed to say. I recently noticed a beginner's guitar class at the local community college and I'm going to sign up for it. Even if it turns out that I'm not great at it, I'm going to give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

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I recommend writing a blog. I do that myself, as you can see - a sort of occasional journal of my thoughts and reminiscences. Not everybody's cup of tea, especially since I post no photos. (I've never been into photographs.) But there are some wonderful bloggers "out there" who are truly inspiring.

My two best favourites can be found by Googling "don't forget your saucepans" and "Miss Footloose". The former is by an English woman living in the Dominican Republic, married to a Dominican man and living out in the sticks; the other is by a Dutch woman married to a Dutchman and with a great deal of travel under her belt. But actually, it doesn't matter who they are or where they live or even (Miss Footloose) not writing any more. Their blog-posts are charming and entertaining. We may not be able to bring as much pleasure to our readers as they do, but they inspire us to to our best!

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Hi Gordon, you are so right about participating in interesting and meaningful blogging, whether as a participant or a creator. I participate in a local one once in awhile that is politically motivated just to find out what's happening locally.

There are blogs on every topic of interest and some that provide some great insights and enjoyable reading. Thanks so much for your feedback and suggestions for good reading!

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I joined a local garden club which keeps me really busy. The nice thing about it is that I can apply so many of my skills and also learn new ones while being involved in the Club's activities...for example, holding a fundraiser, thinking of ideas to beautify our town and making them happen, and so much more.

Also there is the learning piece....flower design, making holiday wreaths and arrangements, landscape design, obtaining new knowledge from monthly presentations and so much more.

Most non-profits offer volunteer opportunities that in turn give back to those who volunteer in numerous ways. We just need to find a good match so that as we are giving our time we also receive the means of participating in new and interesting activities...As an added benefit, we can't help but enhance our social interactions along the way.

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This is the time of year when we can give our older friends and family members the gift of exposure to new interests and learning, whether it is a book, a course, a gym membership, a camera, or information on any hobby, organization, or outside interest that you think they may enjoy.

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Hi, a dear friend just bought me "Birding for Dummies"....ha....I also now have a pair of new binoculars recommended for birding. I'll keep you posted. This should help keep me off the streets for awhile.

Also my new boyfriend suggested ballroom dance lessons! Wow! He seems to be a keeper! Will let you know if/when we start that one.

Filling in our retirement time with fun activities that we didn't have time for while we were working is the ticket. We need to focus on enjoyable activities that create great memories looking back as we age!!

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I found a crafts get-together group that happens once a month at a church here in Oklahoma. There are a few of us going in one car. And we can bring finger foods too. But I'd like to get a few women together about once a week -- maybe at our own church or if that doesn't work out, maybe at my house.


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That's great...you will be fostering creativity and productivity at the same time! Also the idea of making finger foods encourages us to exchange recipes... Hobbies can be a great way to socialize while we learn too....I wish I had started earlier with some of my "at home" interests!!

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A friend of mine recently started to play dominoes with a group of 6 women and they take turns visiting each others' houses for lunch once a month and play. They have lots of laughs and enjoy the game.

Another friend enjoys trying new recipes and jigsaw puzzles, so she cooks a friend a meal she's never prepared to date and they work a puzzle for an hour or two afterwards. She says she is in hog heaven in more ways than one and her friends feel the same way!

My friend Bob in North Carolina has been in a writing group for years and says he still really enjoys it. Most of the members write about unusual life experiences that they've had and follow up with sharing their thoughts. He says it combines the joy of writing, discussion, a little philosophy and a little spirituality all at once!

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I just bought my boyfriend a tripod for his binoculars. He happened to mention that he has eagles nearby and gets tired holding his binocs while watching them and sometimes loses focus. That made me think of all of the neat gifts we can give our friends and loved ones for various occasions that support current hobbies or new ones.

There are so many exciting plans we can make to fill our time as we retire. And we can experiment and not get stuck in something we don't like or enjoy once we give it a try.

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On a trip to Florida, I visited a friend of mine who had an interesting hobby. His goal was to research palm trees and plant as many different kinds as he could on his 6 acre lot. He said he got a lot of pleasure out of learning about how to grow the beautiful trees and landscaping his property with them as a hobby.

We all could do something like that on our land or even in pots. We could pick a certain kind of flower, shrub or tree, do the research and beautify our deck, balcony, or property with plants or flowers. Or we can use inside lights if we don't have enough sun and grow lovely specimens indoors. I am now growing violets under lights in my dining room. Beautiful.

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A friend of a good friend of mine (I've never met the woman) makes jewelry out of old buttons and pieces of watches, etc. I've had a lot of fun going through my basement "stuff" and collecting things for my good friend to give her friend. I need to repack and get rid of a lot of junk down there, and it makes it more enjoyable to find items that this woman can use for her hobby! She told my friend she intends to make me a piece of jewelry with the bits of items I gave her.

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My friends are all into animals. I have so many allergies that I can't really have a pet so I envy them. One friend is now a very active volunteer in saving homeless cats, getting them spayed and neutered and finding some of them homes. Another volunteers for an animal shelter. If you love animals, there are so many ways you can begin a new hobby by helping groups make animals' lives safer and more comfortable. I think spending time this way would be very gratifying as it is to my two friends!

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I am finding that many people are combining their hobbies with volunteer work, which is great. For example, one friend who is into gardening volunteers at the local Boys and Girls Club and started a children's garden....she helps them learn to grow flowers and vegetables.

Another friend teaches quilting at the local senior center, and another teaches watercolors there.

I think taking our hobbies and skills and using them to benefit others must feel extremely satisfying.

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As a project for my garden club, the members had to make a collage that had a garden/nature theme. It was so interesting that more than one member has told me they are taking up making these collages as a hobby. One woman is donating them to people in the hospital or in rehab. She puts a get well card along with the collage and told me people are delighted to get them.

She finds her ideas on line and then puts her own spin on the examples. She says she uses so many things around the house that she doesn't need anymore to make them. One was created by using small items from her junk drawer! Another using plastic utensils, and so on. Very creative and fun.

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I find that one "hobby" or volunteer project can lead to many other projects within the same rubric. I joined a local garden club and now my gardening is only one small aspect of my participation. I am involved in fundraisers, on the Board, write award applications, help with city beautification and so much more. If there is a hobby you love, there are so many other ways to participate in it and spread the joy!

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