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Planning Retirement Online

No longer over the Hill            

                            December 2008


No longer over the hillWell, here at Laterlife we all knew it was the case – but now a new survey (details at bottom of article) has shown that today the over 50s are anything but over the hill!

The survey showed that traditional past times such as reading and walking are out while more ambitious activities such as horse riding and motorsport are in.  The dramatic change of heart could be due to the fact that 60% of recipients said they feel younger than their age because they still have youthful looks, feel sharp and alert and said they were fairly fit and healthy.


The results from the survey showed that the top activities which the 50+ age group would like to try were:


  1. Horse riding (14%)
  2. Motorsport (12%)
  3. Swimming (10%)
  4. Gym (10%)
  5. Sailing (9%)
  6. Tennis (9%)
  7. Hiking (8%)
  8. Snow boarding (7%)
  9. Wind surfing (7%)
  10. Hang gliding (7%)


Most people believed there has never been a better time to turn fifty - the new generation of 50+ are not only feeling fitter than they believe their parents did when they reached the same age, but they also hail the following as the top five perks of being a nifty fifty something today:

1.  Youthful looks (40%)

2.  Feeling sharp and alert (30%)

3.  Feeling fit and healthy (28%)

4.  Doing more with their lives than ever before (25%)

5.  Feeling full of energy (21%)

Although the over fifties really are young at heart, the majority ranked health (33%) as their biggest worry compared to only 5% in their 20s.  Money (24%) and family (19%) worries came second and third amongst the over 50s, whilst relationship (26%) and money (27%) worries ranked highest in their 20s.

The survey is good in that it confirms what most of us know – turning 50 and 60 is no longer the landmark age it was. Things are happening today that would have seemed totally bizarre even just a generation ago. In Manchester, for instance, a special play park for older people has opened after a local woman heard about pensioners’ parks opening up across Germany. The equipment includes a ski walker, a swinger and a see-saw, all bits of equipment designed to provide exercise as well as fun.

According to a recent BBC report, only 20 of 2000 people quizzed admitted to wanting to spend their retirement knitting, a number dwarfed by the number who want to be pensioners on the piste. And it is no longer even unusual for retirees to sell up, up sticks and spend a few years traveling the world, maybe in motorhomes driving around South America or in hostels in remote parts of the world.

Such ambition and adventurousness is part of the recent cultural push towards "active ageing", says Professor Simon Biggs from Keele University's School of Social Relations and author of The Mature Imagination.

Whereas people once assumed they would, or should, withdraw from "social life" as they aged, newer generations of pensioners are increasingly seeing retirement as a time to "re-engage" with society.

"Freed from work and childrearing, many older people are now using retirement to develop the parts of the self they were too busy to explore before," says Professor Biggs.

This may explain the growing trend for older people to spend their free time helping others; the Voluntary Service Overseas says the average age of its workers is steadily increasing and these people are not only volunteering for safe parts of the world; they are also happy to help out in some of the more remote and dangerous regions.

Then of course there is the U3A.This stands for the University of the Third Age which is a self-help organisation for people no longer in full time employment providing educational, creative and leisure opportunities in a friendly environment.  There are local U3As all over the UK, offering the chance to study over 300 different subjects in such fields as art, languages, music, history, life sciences, philosophy, computing, crafts, photography and walking – and its popularity is growing all the time.

Learning new things and a lust for new adventures – today’s 50+ generation share many of the aspirations of modern 20 year olds; definitely not over the hill now!


The survey was carried out by commercial company Efalex Active 50+ who make an Omega 3 fish oil supplement.


The Older People's Play Area is on the Dam Head Estate in Blackley, North Manchester.


The national office of the U3A is in Bromley, Kent. Call them on 0208 466 6139 or visit them on


Voluntary Service Overseas is based in south west London. Call them on 020 8780 7200 or visit them on




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