Research has proven that learning new skills is one of the most effective ways of staying mentally sharp and healthy, not to mention that it’s fun and a great way to expand your social circle. So, what piques your interest? Learning to speak a foreign language? Paint landscapes in watercolors? Scuba diving?

Learning a language

It used to be thought that learning a second or third language became more difficult the older one becomes. However, Neuroscience professor Albert Costa points out that, “Older people have larger vocabularies than younger ones, so the chances are your vocabulary will be as large as a native”. This means that picking up a new language’s vocabulary is easier because new words can be mapped on to a learner’s pre-existing knowledge.

Furthermore, studies have shown that learning a foreign language slow age-related decline in attention and memory. It’s the mental equivalent of a gym work out. Très bon!

Learning to paint in watercolors

It’s not uncommon for people who put art aside as their lives got busier to take the opportunity to return once they have more time available. Whether you’re a total beginner or an old hand chances are that there’s classes or an art group local to you.

And, whatever your experience level Watercolor is wonderful medium to dip into. It’s relatively inexpensive, the equipment is easy to carry around outdoors and the results can make it very rewarding. Be prepared for a challenge though, it is not easy at first – this is skill that requires patience to acquire. But with a little dedication you can soon produce results to be proud of and will also become much more skilled at looking at the world around you and appreciating what you see.

Learning to Scuba dive

Scuba diving is a hobby that has seen a surge of interest amongst retirees. Although it may seem initially daunting most people actually find the experience to be relaxing and stress-relieving. It does favor those with an adventurous spirit but superhuman physical dexterity and strength are not required. In fact it’s attention to detail and experienced level-headedness will put you at the top of the class.

Once you’ve actually gotten started it surprising just how quickly these skills can be acquired. It is possible to achieve international certification after just a couple of weekends!

Lifelong learner

Of course these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Once we’ve become established in life we are usually more rich in terms of time available than ever before as adults…so let’s start spending!