Why over 50’s are the generation least likely to try new activities
May 31, 2018 | By: High50


For quite some time now it has been assumed that over 50’s are more adventurous than ever, and are head and shoulders above younger adults when it comes to trying something new – gaining a re-invigorated lease of life with age.

However, activity holiday experts Neilson wanted to find just how true this is, and instead discovered the complete opposite. Their survey of the United Kingdom revealed that adults aged 50 to 65 are actually trying a new active hobby the least out of all age-groups; with the results showing over 50s haven’t tried a new active hobby in over nine years!

The Catch-22 of Fitness

The big reason for over 50’s shying away from trying a new activity is the feeling of not being fit enough, with almost half (46%) of the over 50’s surveyed viewing their fitness levels as something that puts them off picking up a tennis racquet, going skiing or simply trying something out of their comfort zone.

Life coach Robert Hutchinson contributed heavily to the Neilson study, and helped explain why insecurities over fitness shouldn’t hold the age group, or anyone for that matter, back: “So there is a Catch-22 because of course by practicing a sport you will become fitter, however it’s a genuine mental block. The problem here may be self-comparison, comparing yourself unfavourably to others who may be fitter or perhaps younger. Most sports have many different levels and age bands, so the best answer to this mental blocker would be to find the right level to match your fitness and age and stop comparing yourself to others.”

A treat for mind and body 

Inactivity begins to matter a lot more when you look at the effects on the mind; over nine years of not trying something new will have an adverse effect on your confidence and happiness, as well as exacerbate the negative effects of ageing.

Robert Hutchinson explains why it’s important over 50s embrace learning new active hobbies: “Physical exercise is crucial to the way we think and feel, and it can even reverse some of the effects of ageing on the brain.

 New experiences are a fundamental requirement for mental growth and the brain loves stimulation; it grows with use and it withers with inactivity.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to lay down new connections or even to re-structure itself completely differently. Recent research with seriously brain-damaged war veterans, has uncovered the brain’s incredible ability to re-wire itself and to re-learn. We used to think this ability to lay down totally new brain connections or to learn dropped off significantly into adulthood, however it turns out that age doesn’t have a significant effect on the brain’s ability to re-wire.”

The only option: Try it yourself

Whilst this study shows that the big barriers to learning something new included worries over fitness or a lack of confidence, the only remedy really is to take the plunge and try something new, and reap the rewards afterwards, as can be seen from some of the anecdotal stories gathered as part of the research:

“I was dragged along to a skiing trip with some friends from work, but had never skied before.  Using the chair lifts alone made me nervous, and the first few times coming down the slopes was very scary. However, I’m glad to say I absolutely love it now!”

“I’m not a very good swimmer at all, but I took the leap, learnt to scuba dive and passed my exams. This lead to me scuba diving into the open sea from a rib boat and it was incredible”.

“I had been looking to lose weight and came across a ladies only kickboxing class that was 5 minutes away from my house. I was really quite dubious when I first attended, however it was a really small down-to-earth group and I had great fun. They encouraged me and gave me the confidence boost I needed”.

Hutchinson added: “An active holiday takes you out of your familiar world, and also physically creates the time and space to try something new, to exercise, to stimulate the brain and to learn new physical activities away from the everyday pressures and commitments that might get in the way at home.”

 Following this research Neilson has created a ‘Do Your Thing’ hub, designed to inspire you to find your new activity and passion, before the next nine years rolls around!