Last Updated on March 13, 2023

Keeping an active mind is known from studies to help our overall brain health and to help us stay happy and healthier as we grow older.

But as we move into our 50s and 60s, what new skills are there that you can explore and have fun learning and experiencing? Here are 15 ideas for learning something new!

Tips for keeping an active mind when older

1. Learn Smartphone Photography

Taking photos has never been easier with the latest smartphones and it means that we can take photos wherever we go, without carrying around a clunky camera.

There is nonetheless an art to understanding:

  • the best iPhone settings for photography
  • how to compose pictures correctly
  • techniques for using light (such as in natural settings)
  • techniques such as capturing reflections, silhouettes, and portraits

The best course I have found so far is by iPhone Photography School online.

Take a class on photography and learn how to take great pictures with various camera settings.

You might also find joining a local photography club helps you to keep momentum and to really get into photography.

2. Learn a New Language

Learning a language in your 60s or 70s
It is never too late to learn a language and is especially good for your brain in your later years

You might well feel that you are too old to start learning a new language and wonder if it is really worth the time and effort.

Learning a new language though can be immensely rewarding and when combined with a trip to the country of the language, you will likely have an even greater experience.

Furthermore, studies suggest that a language can be one of the best ways to keep an active mind and aid brain health because learning a language requires many parts of the brain in order to understand, compose and remember a new language.

Learning a language in fact is said to help preserve the brain.

So why not learn conversational Italian and book a trip to Tuscany, Italy, for a year’s time? Or learn Spanish and go to Argentina and also learn tango too!

Whilst you cannot cut corners on learning a language, there are a couple of great tools for making learning a language more fun. I recommend either:

  • using Rosetta Stone as this is an excellent option and is used by many millions worldwide including many government employees who need to learn a language for their work.
  • or Michel Thomas (you can learn as you commute and this is how I learned Spanish)
  • Some people also find Pimsleur to be excellent and their favored way to learn

If you prefer, you can of course join a local class and learn a language whilst also getting out and meeting others and making new friends.

3. Join a Writing Group

Now that you are in your 50s or 60s, you might be ready to write your own life story.

Or maybe you are interested in poetry or just like the idea of being a better writer.

Writing is a wonderful way to express yourself and it’s an incredibly creative hobby from which you can get a lot of benefits.

Joining a local writing group can be a great option, so that you get feedback from your peers, and get to bounce ideas around with others.

4. Take Gardening Classes Locally or Online

Gardening is a great way to keep fit as we age, with the bending, moving, and general movements almost like yoga in that you are continually using balance and movement and the natural resistance of your body.

You can either take classes locally in person, near to where you live, or for free, watch a YouTube series online.

Three channels online I can recommend are:

5. Join a Yoga Class

Learning yoga is invaluable as we get older because it aids:

  • balance
  • flexibility
  • strength
  • and has many other benefits

Most local sports centers these days offer yoga classes and it’s a great way of combining health and fitness with getting out and meeting other people locally.

Learn more about the benefits of yoga for seniors and older people.

6. Join a Toastmasters Group

Whether it is for work, for social situations, or just for fun, learning how to speak in front of other people effectively, can be very rewarding and this is where Toastmasters comes into play.

Toastmasters are a non-profit organization who have groups worldwide in numerous countries and cities, and they are set up to provide education in the form of public speaking.

With Toastmasters you get to present in front of others where you all practice and help each other.

The Toastmasters concept is well respected and proven to really help even the shyest and most scared of people with public speaking.

Maybe now is the time to build even more confidence.

7. Join a Local Book Club

Joining a local book club is a great way to push yourself to have to read and learn about new authors and genres while discussing them with other avid readers.

It’s a great way to step outside your comfort zone and discover new genres and books that you might otherwise never read.

8. Sign Up for Dance Classes

What better way to learn something new, have fun, and meet other like-minded people in the local community than to sign up for a course in dance?

Popular styles from around the world such as salsa, tango, jive, belly dance, and hip-hop are just some ideas.

9. Try out a New Sport

No matter what your age, it really is never too late to learn a new skill such as golfing, horseback riding, sailing, or skiing.

Why not start making sure that you try something completely new at least once a year, i.e. go on a trip where you can experience horseback riding, try cross-country skiing, or take surfing lessons in the Canary Islands?

10. Learn How to Play an Instrument

Many of us think that we are too old to learn to play an instrument when we are aged 50+ but it can actually be the best time to learn because it has been proven to greatly aid our brain as we age, much like learning a new language is so good for our brain.

Learning an instrument in different studies has been shown to help improve:

  • muscle memory
  • the body’s motor skills
  • concentration

You can easily get started, for example by buying an electronic keyboard and a set of headphones and following the lessons by someone such as Andrew Furmanczyk on YouTube.

11. Learn About Art

There are a number of directions you can take regarding learning things to do with art including:

12. Join a Local History Club

If you are interested in history, why not join a local history club and learn about the history of your city or town by attending lectures and visiting museums?

If you have a local town hall or tourist information center, that will be a good place to ask about local history events or groups.

13. Join a Chess Club

Learning chess

Not all of us have the patience to learn chess so this might perhaps not be for one for you.

If you have patience though and are interested to make new friends and stretch your brain a matter a little, why not give chess a go?

Other board game alternatives can include backgammon or Scrabble and these are all especially good for those over 50 and seniors to help our brains keep active.

If you want to learn chess online then is a great resource.

14. Start Using MOOCs

If you are not already familiar with MOOCs, then let me explain.

MOOCs means ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ and this refers to the hundreds of free courses that you can do online.

Many of these are provided by universities around the world and these courses are very credible and worthwhile doing.

You can usually also get a certificate with these courses (for a small extra fee) but you can normally just do the course for free and spend nothing.

The topics taught really cover literally every subject area imaginable including:

  • Computer programming courses (such as Java and C+)
  • Language courses (including Italian, Spanish, and Mandarin)
  • A range of cultural studies topics
  • Law
  • Earth sciences and tonnes more

A good place to start searching for MOOC resources is by either Googleing ‘Free MOOCs’ or going to My Mooc and searching for courses related to your interests.

If you are interested in photography, for example, they list numerous free online photography courses.

15. Learn about Astronomy

Ever looked up at the sky and wanted to understand it more, i.e. to know about the different stars, galaxies, and comets?

In your 50s and 60s, with a bit more free time, attending lectures at your local planetarium or investing in an online course can be a fun way to start learning the basics of astronomy.

I also highly recommend subscribing to Astronomy Magazine as it’s an excellent publication and always interesting.

Final Thoughts

Learning something new can be exhilarating and provide a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

In our 50s, 60s, and 70s, keeping our brain active is increasingly important, much like the expression ‘Use it or lose it’.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, research and studies support the idea that we can increase our brain life by spending time learning and stretching our brain.

The great news is that there are so many things we can learn and, no matter what your interests, there are several things you could be learning and having fun doing it!

What are you learning? Leave your comments below!