Yorkshire Life : 2020-10-01

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RETIREMENT just Age is a number You’re never too old to learn – and doing so might just improve your health Kate Jones WORDS: A re you aware of the health benefits of doing something you’ve never done previously? According to a 2016 article published by Kate Rockwood on oprah.com, learning something new makes the brain build connection­s between neurons, while novel experience­s deliver a rush of the ‘happy hormone’ dopamine. The article also claims breaking routine can make time feel as if it’s passing more slowly and that cultivatin­g a growth mindset instead of a fixed one (‘I’ll get better!’ instead of ‘I’m hopeless!’) reportedly fosters resilience and perseveran­ce. The NHS has even categorise­d learning new skills as one of five steps for improving mental health and wellbeing on its website. It’s a saying that you’re never too old to learn – something BBC Future (a website exploring the hidden ways in which the world is changing) clearly agrees with. ‘Your brain has an astonishin­g ability to learn and master many new skills, whatever your age,’ it says. The platform explores research from The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas), in which older adults given the chance to learn new skills experience­d ‘significan­t improvemen­t’, like better memory. ‘The more active pastime of learning a new skill ‘Your brain has an astonishin­g ability to learn and master new skills’ Moore, who started a writing career aged 70 and has penned more than 20 children’s books. Away from Bolder, nonagenari­an Betty Bromage did her first wing walk at 87 and undertook her first zip line challenge aged 90, abseiling down a building at the same age. ‘Too many people see retirement as the end. But it’s not, it’s a doorway leading to new openings,’ she was quoted as saying after her abseil. Adrenaline-fuelled feats may not be for you, but NHS examples of new skills you could try concern learning to cook something new, working on a DIY project, signing up for a college course and undertakin­g new, challengin­g hobbies. Denise Park, who carried out the UT Dallas study, felt many hobbies could yield the benefits her research saw. ‘It’s important that the task is novel and that it challenges you personally,’ she noted. Perhaps now is the time to take the plunge. ABOVE: Enjoying new activities could give you a revitalise­d zest for life led to the more efficient brain activity you might observe in a younger brain,’ BBC Future says. Dominique Afacan is cofounder with Helen Cathcart of Bolder, a website whose aim is ‘to change perception­s about growing older’ and which features interviews with inspiratio­nal people aged 70 plus With Helen, she’s co-author of the book BELOW: More free time means a chance to try that sport you always wanted to Bolder – Life Lessons From People Older And Wiser Than You, Dominique believes those in later life are ‘much braver with [their] time’. ‘They’re much more willing to take risks and take chances,’ she says, later adding: ‘The people we interviewe­d tend to have a very good idea of what they like and what they want to spend their time on and I guess they do have a lot more spare time.’ One Bolder subject is Lotte – N 190 Yorkshire Life: October 2020 Š

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