Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Are hobbies the best medicine?

24 November 2020

Research tends to indicate that those of us who have hobbies do much better when facing the effects of time on our physical and mental abilities.

Those who exercise their brain and their muscles are far better able to enjoy their twilight years thanks to a reduced incidence of age-related conditions such as dementia and general physical decline.

With this in mind, not having a hobby does not bode well for anyone's retirement -- so what would be the best hobby to have in 2021 and beyond?

What activities will stimulate both mind and body whilst providing a satisfying sense of challenge and achievement?

Just as importantly, what hobbies are "sensible" in the face of a pandemic which may continue to ravage the earth's population for at least another year?

Traditional hobbies such as stamp collecting, model trains, painting and such probably still hold huge appeal for the older generations, but what about the rest of the population?

I find it hard to believe that collecting stamps has much of a future -- as we leave behind the concept of making inky stains on pulverized tree-flesh and then placing it in a jacket of even more dead tree before affixing a little picture-square to it that indicates the delivery fee has been paid. In fact, in ten year's time, will stamps even be "a thing"?

Chances are that stamps will be a great investment, since there'll be so few (if any) of them being printed -- but they probably won't be the basis for an affordable hobby any longer.

Model trains?

Well I guess there'll always be those who are fascinated by such things... but again, the magic and mystery of trains sort of disappeared (at least for me) when the steam age died. Modern trains are either electric or diesel electric and simply do not have the aura of mystery nor do they stimulate the senses in the way that steam locomotives did more than half a century ago.

From a young person's perspective, I also suspect that watching some tiny trains travel around a fixed track in someone's basement isn't nearly as appealing as the fun that is to be had with the latest Playstation 5.

There is, of course, the healthy outdoor pursuits of hiking and tramping but my goodness, why would you do that when you can simply crash on the sofa and watch Netflix? Thanks to the wonders of 4K HDR TV sets and streaming services, you can take a virtual hike through just about any forest on the planet -- whilst enjoying a bag of chips and your favourite sugary beverage on that sofa.

Model aircraft anyone?

Nope, I probably wouldn't recommend it... if you want to stay clear of endless rules, regulations and the risk of very stiff fines. In the name of "safety", model aircraft (known to regulators as RPAS -- that's "drones" to the great unwashed) are being regulated out of existance as an accessible hobby for most kids and many adults.

Despite the fact that it ticks an awful lot of boxes in the "desirable" column of the perfect hobby it has just become too hard and risky. If the old lady down the road doesn't accuse you of trying to spy on her, the local council will probably fine you for endangering its valuable grass on the local sportsfield.

So what else is there?


Yep, perhaps one of the reasons that so many old-folk find a passion for gardening is that it can be modestly demanding from a physical perspective, it has great challenges and the rewards can be many. It can also be quite cheap if you recycle by way of the compost heap and swap cuttings/seedlings with friends. There's also the bonus that a well-kept garden increases the value of your home.

Unfortunately I suspect it's not so easy to get kids involved in gardening.


Well everything happens so damned slowly.

I recall that as a young person, I had little patience when it came to waiting for things to happen. Even the 20 minutes or so it took for the glue to dry on my model aircraft seemed like an age and was the worst part of the hobby. You can imagine how difficult it would be to wait days or even weeks for seeds to germinate and then more weeks or years before plants grew into their full glory.

Yep, it would be a hard-sell trying to get kids into gardening.

So, outside of the XBox/PS5 or computer gaming, what would be the hobby you'd recommend to parents who are trying to get their kids out of the house, enthused about learning and focused on spending their spare time productively?

What hobbies would be the best way to start a life-long interest in something that may eventually go on to extend a kid's health and wellbeing well into their old age?

The floor, ladies and gentlemen, is yours...

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column

Rank This Aardvark Page


Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines



The EZ Battery Reconditioning scam

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam


Recent Columns

Are we running out of capacity?
Semiconductor fabrication is a tricky business...

I fixed it!
The culture of DIY repairs seems to be dying...

Crippled by postage
Last week I received a book from the USA...

Victims of our own intelligence?
Is there life elsewhere in the universe?...

Too old for politics?
It seems that the USA is teetering on the brink of civil war...

Do you leave your computer on?
As someone who has been an electronics tech/engineer for many, many decades, I can testify to the fact that your valuable technology is most likely to break when you apply or remove power from it...

The Internet and free speech
I recall, way back when the internet was still new and shiny, the power it created in terms of a vehicle for free speech was both welcomed and embraced...

A new year, same old problems
Welcome to the start of a new year...

2020, what a year!
Woohoo, only four sleeps to Christmas! Only eleven sleeps until 2021...

I have joined the 21st century
I wrote a column a few days ago griping about the need to invest in a "flagship" smartphone...

The bullet-proof army
There's a war going on and the attackers seem to be impervious to bullets, bombs and other weapons...