Hobbies and niche interests are not confined to school clubs or retirees. Those in the middle of the age pack, the over 40 crowd, should also enjoy the mental escape and physical benefits hobbies bring. Use a new hobby to bond with family, cultivate relationships with new peers or spend time alone with just you and the task at hand. Here are 40 hobbies to pick up when you don't know what to do with whatever extra time you have.
Lace up your boots and find the nearest foot trail. This hobby betters both your physical and mental well-being. Hiking works out your total body, improves heart health and strengthens your bones. Meanwhile, exposure to the great outdoors boosts sensory perception and calms stress and anxiety. Find your favorite hiking place or try the nearest state or national parks.
So what if your acceptance letter to wizarding school is decades late? Hone your magic skills and leave friends and family spellbound. Learn a card trick. Pull an endless string of scarves out of your sleeve or a coin from someone's ear. What better hobby than stumping other adults until they have no choice but to stand in amazement?
To better their spatial and perception skills, primary school children internationally are taught origami - a fusion of the Japanese words "oru," meaning to fold and "kami," meaning paper. Origami pushes crafters to abandon self-judgment and embrace the end result regardless of how perfect or exact. To begin, you just need paper.
Cooking and baking
Whether you rely on cooking tips passed down through generations or the closest fast food spot, challenging yourself to master new dishes could be a sure-to-please new pastime. Cooking and baking both offer opportunities to explore your creative spirit and enjoy the delicious results. Plus, the more you cook at home, the healthier your diet and mental health.
Learn to capture any moment in its best frame and light. Photograph people or landscapes, animals or crazy weather. First, appreciate the view. Then, grab the camera and, with a click, carry it forever.
Any object can be a collectible should you choose to collect it: stamps, coins, buttons, comic books, vintage toys or vinyl records. Find what you enjoy having around and spend your time expanding your collection.
Sculpting pottery or ceramics
Focus on your hands, the clay and the pottery wheel when sculpting pots, pans, cups or candleholders. Place your work of art in a kiln to zap out the excess water and set the shape. Gift your final products to loved ones or turn this crafty hobby into a small business.
Join a league to make friends and health gains too. Sixty-seven million people bowl annually, making bowling the No. 1 participation sport in the U.S. Though appearing and feeling like a usual low-impact workout, bowling works 134 body muscles and, in three games, burns just as many calories as a mile walk.
Building models or miniatures
From store-bought kits, Lego sets or craft store finds, build miniature dollhouses, vintage railroads, retro cars, planes or spaceships. Another hobby that benefits your brain, model and miniature making betters your cognitive functions through a mixture of instant and delayed gratification.
Help the planet by bringing new life to by-products and waste. Transform unwanted delivery boxes into storage baskets, used pasta colanders into planters, old soda cans into wall art or useless CDs into mosaics. Some creativity and Pinterest searching can turn almost any trash into treasure.
Refereeing, umpiring or coaching
High school was not yesterday. Maybe the knees, hips or joints aren't what they used to be. Rather than playing, translate your love of any game into a drive to nurture that same interest in others. Expand your knowledge of the sport and depending on the game, get a sizeable low-impact workout in too.
Workout your problem-solving skills and think in patterns by playing chess. This classic game has also been shown to decrease the risk of dementia and other forms of memory loss in people not already diagnosed.
First choose a computer coding language. Then, just as you would with any language, learn it. HTML and CSS are commonly considered good entry points for beginner coders. There are several online courses, tutorials or games to help you learn the necessary web building tools. Compound your knowledge by studying progressively more difficult coding languages.
Whether flipping pages in a book or scrolling on a device, reading fosters your ability to discern others' feelings and understand that their beliefs may be different from your own. And if you're more into borrowing than buying books there are tons of stunning libraries to visit.
Be like Bridget Jones and keep a diary. Put pen to paper and detail any new or monotonous feelings and happenings. Writing about previous trauma or difficult emotion has been shown to also greatly assist in mental and physical healing. Journaling about the good things is also one of the many ways to show gratitude every day.
Writing fiction or poetry
String words together into semantic masterpieces. Make them rhyme or don't. Keep stories short or make them long. Write romance or mystery. Historic fiction or fantasy. Or, play somewhere in between styles or genres and mix all you enjoy about fiction.
Interested in contributing to the public discourse in a way other than written? Grab a friend. Chat it up as your phone records the audio. Mix the audio together and post online. Congratulations, you have podcasted! Tell stories you believe need to be heard or joke around with friends. Podcasting, like writing, can be whatever you make of it.
Grab giant crayons, colored pencils and magic markers and gear up for a welcome childhood throwback. Stay inside the lines or scribble boldly outside them. Coloring presents a craft with set parameters, leaving the artist the no-stress task of just completing the assignment. Coloring is just one of the relaxation techniques that actually work.
Massively more complex than coloring, this hobby might require some previous experience before making the jump into the techy world of hardware and software. Purchasable kits could ease the transition or, if you are like several founders of the world's biggest businesses, dive in and see what invention awaits.
Put a resting poker face to good use. Poker requires little social interaction, making it the ideal communal activity for those who are introverted. It does, however, require players to remain self-aware.
Declutter by compiling precious mementos, photos or keepsakes into a single location. Get creative by inserting additional embellishment and decoration in the white space between all you are trying to preserve.
Regardless of what brand your bike is, cycling does wonders for your health. Low-intensity and requiring just minimal levels of physical coordination, biking increases heart health, muscle strength, joint mobility and more. Make this more than a personal hobby by inviting the kids, in-laws or neighbors to join in on bike rides.
Just imagine how endlessly impressive this hobby could become. With practice, you could juggle anything, on the spot, for anyone, anywhere. Apples at the grocery store, check. Balls of socks at the laundromat, check. Cookies in the work cafeteria, check!
When you look your best, you feel your best. Use your face and hair as a canvas on which to create striking or subdued looks. Experiment with colors, shapes and textures outside the traditional. Or keep it classic with natural cuts and makeup looks.
Overcome all inhibitions and turn whatever floor you stand on into a dance floor. Sign up for a class or blast your favorite tunes and bounce around the house. Choose a style you feel comfortable with or challenge yourself to a new genre. Dancing improves your mood and works out your body. Grow your self-confidence and move to the music.
Astronomy and stargazing
Learn how to read the night sky from your own backyard. Spot the moon phases and connect the stars to make constellations. By learning more about the sky above, you can begin to better know your place in the cosmos. If this is too much, you can of course just make it a habit to witness some beautiful sunrises.
Volunteer at local shelters, senior centers or park districts. Make meaningful contributions to your favorite causes while building a community with others who share similar passions. Your help is needed somewhere. Be of service to others and volunteer.
Repetitively passing a single thread through two needles could do wonders for the mind and body. The way the needles, your forearms and hands rest in a cross in front of your chest as you work the yarn creates a safe, soothing space. Learn the basic stitch and repeat. Any mistakes can be easily corrected and materials can be reused should you need to restart from the top.
What better way to bond than working a 500-piece puzzle with family and friends? Or make solving the puzzle your own individual mission and take on the project solo. Designate a table to begin building your work of art on and start searching for the corner pieces.
Regular exercise, such as a 30-minute jog, can quell depression, reduce risk of certain cancers and strengthen weak knees. Be sure to hydrate, find your perfect shoe and take days to fully recover from past runs. If shedding pounds is the goal, try interval running, one of the 50 all-time best workouts for weight loss.
A natural antidepressant, nourishing and cultivating an at-home garden can boost your mood and contribute to a healthy and balanced diet. Start with some plants best suited for rookie gardeners like green beans, rosemary, mint or marigold. Then research and follow common gardening tips, like labeling everything you plant and always staying patient.
Study the art of beautiful handwriting. Learn how to perfectly swirl and spiral letters using jet black ink spilled out of a broad-tip pen. Just be ready for your friends, coworkers, family and neighbors to recruit you for all their fancy writing needs.
Learning an instrument
It's time to pick up your favorite instrument and give music a shot. Set a practice schedule and remain determined to grow as a musician. Should your friends be musically inclined, allow them to help you as you learn basic chords and more.
Doing yoga benefits your body and mind. It stretches your muscles, increases flexibility, balances your metabolism and can be easily paired with mindfulness and meditation. Do yoga for free on your living room floor or join a yoga class with friends.
Pick up the paintbrush and channel Bob Ross. Paint happy little trees all over the canvas or instead, lean into your abstract expressionist by splattering haphazard colors all around à la Jackson Pollock.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone or put to work an untapped funny bone by enrolling in a comedy class. Learn teamwork and abandon all self-seriousness as you play with teammates who, like you, are out on a limb. Celebrate the group victories and laugh off the defeats. Improv is all about being quick on your feet.
Get outside and search for the world's most beautiful flying creatures. First, buy a field guide and binoculars. Then, find out what birds are native to your state and begin your birding adventure.
Dust off your childhood yellow, purple, blue or green belt. Not only is karate a total body workout, but an excellent form of self-defense.
Learning a new language
A 2018 study found that after reaching age 17, native English speakers' ability to master another language's grammar steadily declines. Still, hope is not lost. Use an app or join a class. Immerse yourself in your chosen new language. Read your favorite books or explore other media, film and television in whichever language you wish to learn.
Craft custom maps of your favorite literary worlds or explore the year's top travel destination. Having more time to explore the world and your taste in pastimes are just some ways life gets better with age.
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