Summary: Retirees can benefit greatly from engaging in fulfilling hobbies after they leave the workforce. Hobbies can help reduce common risks in older adults including social isolation and cognitive decline. Below, we’ll explore hobbies and activities that are good options for retirees and important considerations to make before starting a new hobby. Estimated Read Time: 7 min
Table of Contents:
- Why Are Hobbies Important in Retirement?
- How To Free Up Time for Hobbies
- Unique Considerations for Older Adults Who Are Starting a New Hobby
- How To Choose a Hobby in Retirement
- Good Hobbies for People in Retirement
When looking at the ways in which older adults should spend their retirement, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having hobbies. A hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure”. Hobbies can range from activities like swimming to volunteering at a community center. Having hobbies can have both short-term and long-term benefits to mental and physical health.
As a retiree, you may find yourself with an abundance of free time. According to the American Psychological Association, too much free time can be a bad thing. In this report, participants reported lower levels of well-being when spending moderate or high amounts of free time in an unproductive manner. Using your free time for hobbies can lead you to feel productive and fulfilled.
Having hobbies and activities you enjoy is important during all stages of your life but becomes increasingly more important in retirement. Retirees and other older adults are at a higher risk of feelings of isolation and loneliness when compared to younger adults. Engaging in hobbies or activities that you enjoy can help combat those feelings and help improve your overall health.
Participating in hobbies can also help support brain health. The Alzheimer’s Association states that incorporating healthy habits into your routine, such as challenging and activating your mind through hobbies and activities can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
Hobbies involving physical activity can also be a great way to socialize and stay fit in retirement. Per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Physical activity can also preserve physical function and mobility, which may help maintain independence longer and delay the onset of major disability”.
Hobbies can be beneficial to your health in a variety of ways, so it’s important to make time in your schedule for activities that help enrich your life. Below are some tips for freeing up time for your hobbies.
- Utilize a calendar or daily planner to plan your days and improve your time management.
- Consider lifestyle adjustments that make time for your hobbies, such as waking up an hour earlier.
- Join a class or group that meets regularly.
- Reduce time spent watching TV or looking at things on your phone.
- If your schedule is tight, consider doing your hobby in small increments. Instead of spending an hour on a puzzle, work on it for ten minutes multiple times throughout the day.
People often consider hobbies as just something that is “fun”, instead of something that has a positive impact on your health and life. Retirement is an opportunity to reduce activities that have a negative impact on your health and dedicate more time to activities that enrich your life.
Before starting a new hobby there are unique considerations that older adults should make.
- Health Concerns – Health is an important consideration before beginning a hobby, especially if that hobby involves physical activity. If you are unsure if an activity will have a negative impact on your health, contact your doctor and discuss your concerns.
- Safety – When starting a new hobby, it’s essential that you make safety a priority. For example, if you want to start walking, but live in a hot climate, you may need to plan to walk in the mornings or evenings to avoid the heat.
- Funding – It’s important to consider your budget and the cost of your hobby before taking the plunge. Some hobbies may have significant upfront costs, while other hobbies may include reoccurring costs. Other hobbies don’t cost any money at all.
Choosing safe hobbies that are appropriate for your healthcare and budgeting needs can help reduce your risk of injury and financial burden. Unfortunately, there are very few activities that are completely risk-free. However, you can be prepared by ensuring you’re properly insured.
For many retirees, that means having Medicare coverage. Having proper coverage ensures you get the coverage you need without experiencing significant financial loss due to medical bills. If you haven’t already, you may consider signing up for Medicare Part A and Part B.
Now that you understand the importance of having hobbies in retirement, it’s time to choose a hobby. For some individuals, especially those who had minimal time for hobbies while working, it may be difficult to decide which hobby to get involved in. Here are some tips for choosing a hobby that’s right for you:
- What are your personal interests? Participating in hobbies related to your personal interests increases the likelihood that you’ll stay engaged with that hobby longer. For example, if you like animals, you may consider birdwatching or volunteering for a local animal rescue.
- What are your personal needs? Consider your mental and physical needs. Are you experiencing loneliness? Do you need to incorporate more physical activity in your week? You might consider hobbies that fulfill your personal needs, like joining a fitness class.
- What are your goals? Is your goal to earn extra income? Or do you want to learn a new skill? Consider your goals and explore hobbies that can help you achieve them. For example, you may want to develop a hobby of baking with the goal of selling your baked goods.
A great hobby is one that you are interested in enough to engage with regularly. This will, of course, differ from person to person. However, there are some tried and true hobbies that are good options for people who are in retirement.
Though some hobbies can be expensive to get in to, there are many hobbies that have low to no costs. Some low-cost hobbies include:
- Journaling or creative writing
When looking for a new, low-cost hobby, consider connecting with your local library or community center. These local establishments often have classes, seminars, and other activities that are free for members of the community. Libraries often have family events or activities, which can be a great option for retirees who have grandchildren.
Regular physical activity is essential for healthy aging and can help reduce your risk of developing certain chronic conditions. Active hobbies can also contribute to reducing stress and anxiety. When choosing an active hobby, make sure to consider any physical limitations or restrictions you may have due to health conditions. Below are some recommendations for hobbies that incorporate physical activity:
- Walking or hiking
- Taking a fitness class
Brain Healthy Hobbies
Brain healthy hobbies are hobbies that challenge your mind to think in new ways. These activities help keep your brain active and can have an impact in combating cognitive decline. Below are some activities you can participate in that help promote cognitive activity:
- Taking a class or educational course
- Playing strategic games such as chess
- Learning (or relearning) how to play an instrument
Formal education can be a great activity to keep your mind active. You can check local colleges or community centers to see if there’s any classes available that interest you.
According to the CDC, nearly one-fourth of adults 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated. Social isolation and loneliness can increase your risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions. Social hobbies can help you meet new people and establish new social connections. There are many activities and hobbies you can do with other people such as:
- Participating in local clubs
- Volunteering in your community
- Joining a group such as a walking group or birdwatching group
Social media, such as Facebook groups, can make it easier to find local clubs and groups for specific hobbies or interests. For example, you may consider looking for a local book club or gardening group. Local hobby groups may meet at community centers or libraries, so those locations can also be a good place to find a club that you’re interested in.
Creative hobbies can be beneficial in multiple ways. Activities such as drawing or writing not only contribute to cognitive health but can also help your hands stay dexterous. Expressing your creativity can also help reduce stress while improving overall mood. Creative hobbies can include activities such as the following:
- Drawing or painting
Physical and mental health benefits aside, hobbies can also have financial benefits. If you are looking for a new hobby but are also interested in making extra income in retirement, you may consider a profitable hobby. Some examples of profitable hobbies are:
- Baking or cooking
- Handmade crafts
If you enjoy baking or making handmade goods such as jewelry, you might consider selling your goods. Selling goods at local markets is not only a good way to earn extra income but can also allow you to meet and interact with members of your community.