The Canberra Times

50 Plus Lifestyle and LivingAdvertising Feature

50 Plus: Sparking connections in 2022Advertising Feature

At the Expo will be Maggie Beer, one of the judges on The Great Australian Bake Off alongside Matt Moran and is also a regular guest on MasterChef Australia. Photo: Supplied

COTA ACT's events calendar in 2022 will provide opportunities for Canberra's seniors to connect and enjoy themselves.

"Our team is working closely with ACT Health and other agencies in planning events and activities with social distancing and other preventative measures firmly in place, whilst retaining the ambience and freedom for seniors to move around with relative ease, safety and comfort," said COTA ACT CEO, Jenny Mobbs.

"We have moved away from the pressure of presenting a jam-packed Seniors Week to a concept of designing an energising and refreshing 'Silver is Gold Festival' that will stretch across the entire year, providing Canberra's seniors with a little breathing space.

"We're all about sparking connection this year, getting out, loving life and celebrating our age."

Right now, you can enter two fabulous community competitions that focus on photography and art.

The Silver is Gold Community Photography and Art Competitions are open to the entire ACT community, regardless of age and experience.

Entrants have until Friday, April 8 to submit their photographic images or works of art. Please go to cotaact.org.au for further information.

On Thursday, May 26, at Exhibition Park in Canberra, COTA ACT will be presenting the 2022 ACT Seniors Expo.

The Expo's star attraction, kindly sponsored by LDK Seniors Living, is the legendary Australian food celebrity Maggie Beer AO, an Australian cook, food author, restaurateur and food manufacturer, who lives in the Barossa Valley.

Joining Maggie at the Expo will be the Maggie Beer Foundation and Maggie Beer Foods, selling their fabulous products and offering taste-tempting samples.

With 160 stalls, spread across two huge pavilions, you can also check out the latest products and services available to seniors.

Learn about sustainable gardening, bees, conservation, permaculture, community gardens, growing apples, art, photography, crafts, men's sheds, women's sheds, recreational activities, hobbies and lifestyle interests.

Engage with robots, watch nutritional cooking demos, hear great music, watch dancing displays and explore the realm of electric vehicles, courtesy of ACTEWAGL.

Transport Canberra are providing free light rail and bus services on the day and car parking at EPIC is totally free. There are Expo giveaways and exciting prizes to win - all for a gold coin donation!

In the second half of the year COTA ACT will present two Chief Minister's Seniors Concerts, the Silver is Gold Seniors Achievement and Recognition Awards and Canberra's first Veterans and Seniors Expo on September 14 at EPIC.

Planning is also in the wind for a series of 'Play Stations for Senior's' recreational activities, beginning in Haigh Park on April 2. There will be live music and food at many of the events too.

See cotaact.org.au, phone 6282 3777 or email events@cotaact.org.au

Niche interests build vital networkAdvertising Feature

People from all over the world can create communities of interest around their hobbies. Photo: Shutterstock

It's long been believed that everyone needs a hobby, but there is more to it than just the activity itself.

Sharing information about your hobby with others who have the same area of interest, even if it's only online, also helps you reap the benefits of staying connected.

Charles Sturt University School of Information and Communication Studies lecturer Dr Yazdan Mansourian has been working on a relevant research project since 2017.

"During the pandemic, when people can't meet in person, they use digital platforms to stay connected and share hobby-related information," Dr Mansourian said in a statement.

"People from different parts of the world can create virtual hubs or communities of interest around their hobbies," he said.

Even well before the pandemic, people with niche interests have been sharing their enthusiasm, knowledge, resources and ideas with others from around the country or globe.

For instance, this might be on internet forums or in social media groups.

And with people staying home more now - either by direction or by choice - the "social benefits of serious leisure are more important during this challenging time".

A word of caution, though. Be mindful of what people can be like behind their keyboards. Always be respectful of others, even when you disagree. And don't take everything as fact without cross-checking it yourself.

Hobbies you can do from home

Here are some suggestions that you may take up.

Making your own food is a great one. It can be cooking, baking, smoking food or any other culinary creation where you can share ideas.

Gardening or any niche therein - Dr Mansourian's research project looked at the social benefits that bonsai growers experienced from connecting via social media.

Painting, drawing or making any other art are suitable for any age group.

Knitting, crocheting, quilting or other creations of cloth or clothing - there are often many local groups dedicated to some of these activities.

Woodwork or metalwork are great ways to use your hands and make something useful or artistic. There are often local groups or guilds that bring people together around these.

Reading or writing - book clubs share their experiences after reading a story, while writers can help each other with feedback and tips related to the creative process.

Music - listening and learning more about a particular genre or playing a new instrument can be engaging, interesting and rewarding.

Dancing - just like music, this can take many forms too.

Fitness - whether it's swimming, cycling, running, yoga, weights, tennis, squash, or anything else, will be great for your body and mind as you engage with others who are into the same sport.

Restoring old items - anything from toys to musical instruments to clothing or home furnishings takes passion, skill and offers another avenue to share knowledge among enthusiasts.

Gaming - through online platforms, these hobbyists might be the most globally-connected people of all.

Join a dance class for better healthAdvertising Feature

Get off the couch and discover life through dance moves like Latin, salsa, hip-hop or ballet. Photo: Shutterstock.

DANCING is a winner for everyone of all ages. The beauty of dance is that you can go at your own pace and your own style, and it's a fun, enjoyable pastime.

Dancing is also a lovely way to express your feelings, whether you just want to glide around romantically if you are feeling in a languid mood, let off steam with a bit of good old stomping, or tap those toes until the cows come home.

Now is as good a time as any to get off the couch and discover life through Latin, salsa, hip-hop or ballet.

It doesn't matter what dance style you choose, because learning to dance not only engages you with the world and gets you fit but will make a new, more confident person out of you - one who is ready to tackle anything.

Dancing is an excellent form of physical activity that provides a large range of benefits.

- Carly Ryan, accredited exercise physiologist

"You can really dance your way to better health," accredited exercise physiologist Carly Ryan on exerciseright.com.au said.

"Dancing is an excellent form of physical activity that provides a large range of benefits including:

"Dancing provides these benefits partly as it is an all-over body activity that raises your heart rate.

"It's suitable for all ages and fitness levels, and individuals can tailor the activity to their individual fitness levels, needs and goals."

Yep, your Saturday dance floor boot scooting, hip hop counts.

"Social dancing would typically fall into the moderate-intensity physical activity category," AEP Carly Ryan said.

"This correlates to an increase in heart rate and breathing rate (also known as a slight 'huff and puff)', often to the point where you can talk but do not have enough breath to sing or whistle.

As a comparison, vigorous activity is where heart rate and breathing rate significantly increase, and talking becomes more difficult."

Most regions are blessed with an amazing choice of dance schools offering an even wider choice of dance styles, and they are just waiting for you to sashay over to the phone and make the first move to a new dance class.

Did you know?

In Ireland during the 1800s, a popular event was a cake dance.

A cake would be placed on a stand in the centre of a field as the prize for the best dancer. The winner would, of course, "take the cake".

Attempts by the parish priests to suppress dancing were frequent but appeared to be mostly ineffective.