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Why Senior Men Need a Hobby

Kimberly Fowler
By Kimberly FowlerJanuary 16, 2017

The New Year is the perfect time to try something new, especially for senior men. Although studies show that having a hobby is important for people of all ages and genders, men in particular have the most to gain from picking up a new hobby this year.

Learn more about how senior men can benefit from a hobby in 2017.

Decreased Depression and Suicide Risks in Senior Men

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, men die by suicide 3.5 times more often than women, and caucasian men accounted for seven out of 10 suicides in 2015. Studies show that having a hobby, particularly one that involves some sort of exercise, can actually decrease depression and lower the risk of suicide.

According to Jake Messing, the director of behavioral health services at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, some of the biggest benefits to having a hobby is that a hobby helps reduce isolation and gives individuals a sense of purpose. “If you go golfing, you are golfing with other people. If you do painting, you might go to art shows. If your hobby is cars, you can join a car club. You’re interacting with others. It becomes a social event as well as a hobby,” Messing told the NWI Times.

“A big reason men have a higher rate of suicide is the isolation later in life. It’s good to do something that puts us around people,” he says. A hobby helps keep us social, but it also gives us something positive to focus on and aim for.

Whether or not it’s true, men are viewed as more task-oriented than women, and often neglect cultivating a hobby because they are so goal-focused (and advancing their career is their primary goal). For men without a hobby, the transition into retirement can be more difficult, however, the benefits make it worth the effort.

The Physical and Social Benefits of a Hobby

Not only will the social element of a hobby fight isolation, there’s also research that shows that a hobby that involves exercise can offer a variety of mental benefits, including:

  • Boosting self-esteem: Exercise can improve how we feel about ourselves
  • Improving mood: Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel happier

Of course, the physical benefits of getting regular exercise come hand in hand with a hobby like golf or Tai Chi. “The more we move around, the longer we live,” Messing says.

In fact, the British Journal of Sports Medicine “found that regular physical activity reduced older adults’ likelihood of developing long-term health conditions, dementia and depression.”

Selecting the Right Hobby

There’s no one “right” hobby — the options are endless. While a hobby involving exercise may be a smart choice, it’s not necessarily an option that everyone will enjoy. The key is to challenge yourself while doing something that is enjoyable.

For some older men, rekindling a childhood interest like baseball stats or car racing may be interesting. For others, this could be an opportunity to try something new.

While there may be some trial and error involved, keep in mind that many hobbies come with a price tag. For example, golf can be expensive over the course of a year. Look for senior’s discounts and keep your budget in mind when exploring a new hobby.

Remember that not all hobbies cost money. Some of the most rewarding activities may involve volunteering in your community or even mentoring youth — leading Scouts can give seniors an opportunity to share knowledge and life skills, interact with other people and give back to the community.

So, no matter what it is you end up deciding to do, the point is to do something! If you don’t already have a hobby, then make it a point to pick up a new interest in 2017.

Which hobbies will the senior men in your life benefit from in 2017? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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Kimberly Fowler
Kimberly Fowler
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