Learning New Skills in Retirement Keeps You Young

Retirement is a time many people dream of in much the same way as graduation. It’s the hope of new adventures that tantalizes in both events. Equally enticing in retirement is the freedom to spend your time as you choose, to do precisely what you want as you want it. You even have the option to reinvent yourself. It’s a great time! The only question is where to begin.

No longer relegated to sitting on the porch, on the periphery of life as in past generations, you have myriad ways to use that retirement time. These are life-enhancing ways that also keep you healthy and feeling young. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded, “Participation in leisure activities is associated with a reduced risk of dementia.” Add to that the health benefits of physical activities in terms of retaining stamina and muscle strength as well as increasing flexibility, and you have every reason to learn new skills.

That brings you back to the question of where to begin. To discover a hidden talent, hone a new skill and potentially even broaden your definition of who you are, consider the following suggestions.

Indulge in a Cooking Class

A fun way to while away a few hours per week, cooking encompasses far more than the rudimentary skills you might be employing to make a basic meal. Now is the time to indulge your penchant for your favorite cuisine by taking a cooking class. Providing you with the expertise to improve your current skills or expand your repertoire of recipes, a cooking class also leaves you with a finished product to enjoy. Whether you opt to sign up for a class, where you have the added benefit of meeting new people, or you enlist friends to teach you the epicurean skills of their culture — thereby ensuring fond memories as an outgrowth of your lessons as well — a cooking class is likely to produce a skill you will be proud to demonstrate.

Learn to Play Golf

Quiet and relaxing, golf is a sport increasingly enjoyed by people across all age groups and walks of life. The benefit of learning to play golf in retirement is that you have the leisure time to play at will and the energy to do so. More a game of skill than high activity, golf is a low-impact sport you can continue playing throughout your retirement years. While you will walk an average of five miles on an 18-hole course, even riding a golf cart affords you a mile of walking, which is excellent cardiovascular activity as well as a boon to muscle strength.

Dabble in the Arts

Painting, pottery, theater — the arts are a wonderful creative outlet. Even if you have never tried your hand at any form of artistry before or have been too shy to attempt it, retirement affords you the chance to delve into it with gusto. Shed those inhibitions and take a class in painting or pottery. Or, if the stage has always beckoned to you, answer that call by auditioning for a part in a local theater production or offering to work behind the scenes in set design, costumes, or any other artistic endeavor that appeals to you.

Take Up Ballroom Dancing

Watching dancers glide and swirl across a ballroom floor in dance competitions is a glorious sight. If you have ever envisioned yourself on the dance floor, taking up ballroom dancing when you retire makes those visions a reality. From traditional dances such as the waltz and foxtrot to sizzlingly hot dances like salsa and merengue, ballroom dancing is a marvelous workout without the tedium of calisthenics. Whether you sashay across the floor in a dance competition or simply wow your friends at the next party, you will have a wonderful new skill.

Discover a New Language

Those for whom the mellifluous sounds of French or Italian, for instance, have always conjured a smile will be enthralled to discover their own ability to learn a new language. Even if your high school skills are rusty, trying that same language again in retirement or discovering an entirely new one is a mental challenge worth undertaking. Besides stretching your cognitive abilities, you will certainly have a new skill to display as you travel or simply to use the next time you dine in a restaurant in which the language is spoken.

Play an Instrument

Perhaps those childhood piano or guitar lessons didn’t prove fruitful back then. Taking those lessons again now may be precisely the pleasure you seek. With the time to devote to practicing during retirement, playing an instrument can be both a relaxing and a creative endeavor. Who knows, you might even form a band or orchestra with like-minded and equally musically inclined friends.

Travel

The expressed goal of so many people anticipating retirement, travel could easily be the most enriching activity as it envelops aspects of all the others. Providing aerobic activity as you sightsee; the cognitive benefits of learning about new cultures and people as well as the history and geography that accompany them; and the exhilaration of new experiences, travel is the desire that retirement offers both the time and the ability to gratify.

Of course, the potential activities you might undertake in retirement are limitless. By affording yourself the opportunity to engage in more than one — perhaps a creative outlet as well as a physical one — you boost your health and your enjoyment of life while remaining young physically and mentally.

Kzenon / Shutterstock

Jun 29, 2018