Retirement Hobbies

Hobbies in retirement can improve your mental and physical health as you age. Look for hobbies that engage you physically and mentally — but most importantly, hobbies you enjoy. A retirement hobby can give you a sense of purpose, a sharper mind and a healthier outlook on life.

Terry Turner, writer and researcher for RetireGuide
  • Written by
    Terry Turner

    Terry Turner

    Senior Financial Writer and Financial Wellness Facilitator

    Terry Turner has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including covering benefits, spending and congressional action on federal programs such as Social Security and Medicare. He is a Certified Financial Wellness Facilitator through the National Wellness Institute and the Foundation for Financial Wellness and a member of the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education (AFCPE®).

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  • Edited By
    Lamia Chowdhury
    Lamia Chowdhury, editor for RetireGuide.com

    Lamia Chowdhury

    Financial Editor

    Lamia Chowdhury is a financial content editor for RetireGuide and has over three years of marketing experience in the finance industry. She has written copy for both digital and print pieces ranging from blogs, radio scripts and search ads to billboards, brochures, mailers and more.

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  • Published: June 13, 2022
  • Updated: June 13, 2022
  • 9 min read time
  • This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
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APA Turner, T. (2022, June 13). Retirement Hobbies. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/hobbies/

MLA Turner, Terry. "Retirement Hobbies." RetireGuide.com, 13 Jun 2022, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/hobbies/.

Chicago Turner, Terry. "Retirement Hobbies." RetireGuide.com. Last modified June 13, 2022. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-life-leisure/hobbies/.

What Are the Benefits of Having Hobbies in Retirement?

Staying active in retirement can reduce social isolation and promote mental and physical health. Hobbies — especially those that give you a sense of purpose — can play an important role in staying active, improving your well-being and independence in retirement.

5 Benefits of Hobbies and Activities in Retirement
Better mental health
Studies have found people who participate in meaningful activities — such as volunteering, staying physically or mentally active — tend to be happier and experience less depression, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
Better able to cope with setbacks
If you are healthier and happier, then you tend to be better at recovering from difficult situations in your life. The positive benefits of remaining active — such as through a hobby — can help bolster your resilience.
Disease prevention
Participating in hobbies and other activities is believed to lower your risk of developing certain diseases including stroke, heart attack and dementia, according to the NIA.
Improved cognitive abilities
Research suggests that participating in mentally or physically engaging hobbies and activities may have a positive effect on your memory as you age. Creative hobbies such as music or dance may also help with existing memory problems.
Longer life expectancy
Activities or hobbies you enjoy can cultivate happiness and a sense of purpose. Those qualities appear linked to living longer, according to the National Institute on Aging.
Source: National Institute on Aging

What Should You Look for in a Hobby?

You may want to try several different hobbies to see what works best for you. But you may also want to explore your interests and personality first to narrow down the best fit for you.

Hobbies can range from running clubs to knitting on the couch — from dance classes to painting or photography. You may feel better participating with others or doing it alone.

Use a checklist to determine what hobbies are the best fit for you.

Retirement Checklist: Questions to Ask Yourself When Seeking a Retirement Hobby
Do you want to help other people?
You may want to consider volunteering. Consider whether your career skills could be used to help others. If there’s a cause that’s always been important to you, then consider giving your time toward it.
Do you want to stick with familiar places or seek change?
You may want to take up activities in your community if you prefer something familiar. If you’re seeking change, then travel may be a hobby option for you.
Do you want your hobby to involve physical activity, mental activity or both?
Try to balance both but dividing activities along this division may help you narrow the field of choices toward something you’ll enjoy most.
Do you love the outdoors?
You may want to consider a retirement move to a climate that matches your favorite outdoor activities — from skiing to beachcombing. You may also want to join a walking, running, hiking or paddling, golf or other sports-related club in your community.
Do you have daily activities you really enjoy?
Do you like cooking, hanging out with the family dog or do-it-yourself projects around the house? You may already have the beginnings of a hobby. Expand on your cooking skills with a class, learn dog training or fix up the house.
How much can you afford to spend?
Some hobbies can become expensive quickly — especially if they involve equipment like golf clubs, cameras, bicycles and the like. Keep one eye on your retirement budget when choosing an activity.
Is there something new you want to learn?
Check out the local community college or university for classes. Many offer reduced rates for retirees — or let seniors audit classes for free. Going back to school can keep your mind engaged.
What did you enjoy most about your career?
Is there any way you can turn the favorite part of your career into a teaching, volunteer or home business activity? You may be able to keep enjoying that best quality without the pressure of a daily grind while helping others or making some extra spending money.
What was your favorite activity as a child?
It may be worth revisiting your happiest childhood memories and seeing if those activities still bring you pleasure.
Would you like an activity you do on your own or with other people?
Think seriously about whether you want to use your hobby to socialize with others, or to be alone and focused on the activity. This can be the difference between choosing a team sport or time alone to finally write that novel you always wanted to author.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Hobbies

The weather where you live can play a big role in your choice of hobbies. If it’s too hot or too cold outside much of the time, you may not get to enjoy your outdoor activities as much as you’d like. The same is true if great outdoor weather lures you away from indoor hobbies.

You may also want to consider a mix of outdoor and indoor activities you can shift between.

What Indoor Hobbies Can You Have?

Indoor hobbies can turn your daily routine activities into something more or allow you to enjoy new activities without having to leave the house.

Top 5 Indoor Hobbies to Consider in Retirement
Computer games
Computer games offer several benefits as you age. For example, those that require physical interaction can improve balance. They’ve also been shown to improve your cognitive ability and emotional well-being. However, gaming can often be a solo activity that keeps you from engaging with other people, so be sure to watch your screen time.
Cooking
If you enjoy cooking, you may want to expand your skills and knowledge. Taking a class can help you expand your range of what you cook, how to apply the chemistry of cooking and understand nutrition. All this can have a positive payoff beyond just a life and leisure activity.
Plant care
If you like gardening, then you can bring your interest indoors. Creating an indoor garden takes inclement weather out of the equation and lets you learn a whole new range of growing plants.
Puzzles
Whether it’s jigsaw or crossword, puzzles provide positive benefits besides just the fun and challenge of solving them. Research shows that puzzles can improve your short-term memory, concentration and relieve stress. You can also play many of them with your grandkids or friends, and they can keep your mind active.
Reading
Whether it involves quiet time in your favorite nook or discussions during book club with your friends, reading can provide several benefits to retirees while being a relaxing hobby. Reading enhances your memory, reduces stress and can sharpen your thinking skills.

What Outdoor Hobbies Can You Have?

Outdoor hobbies can have a positive effect on your physical fitness and general physical health. They typically require you to keep moving, which also engages your mind.

Top 5 Outdoor Hobbies to Consider in Retirement
Bird watching
Not something most people expect, but bird watching checks a lot of boxes for retirement hobbies. It gets you out of the house, requires physical activity and requires mental engagement to identify and record the birds you spot. You may find yourself spending hours at a time in pursuit of a bird to complete a list.
Gardening
Gardening is a creative activity that requires you to get physically active at the same time. You can beautify your home with flowers or grow herbs and vegetables for your cooking projects. It can relieve stress, provides good exercise and exposes you to fresh air and sunshine.
Hiking or walking groups
Hiking or simply walking provides several benefits for people as they age. These activities improve cardiovascular health and circulation, reduce arthritis pain, build muscle and increase bone density. Finding a hiking group to explore trails or simply walking your pets can be a great activity to stay fit as you age.
Photography
Photography can motivate you to get outside and explore new places. It’s a creative hobby that keeps your mind engaged while keeping you physically active, whether you're hunting that perfect shot on a nature trail or city street. Just be aware that photography can become an expensive hobby due to the equipment needed.
Sports
Sports are a great way to keep in shape and remain physically active as you age. Golf is the quintessential retirement sport. But low impact sports such as swimming or biking offer great health benefits for retirees. Look into local groups for different sports that fit your interests and abilities.

Which Hobbies Offer Learning and Community Opportunities?

Finding a hobby that offers learning opportunities can keep your mind active and engaged. It can immerse you in your community and offer socialization opportunities that help keep you engaged with other people.

Top 5 Learning and Community-Oriented Hobbies to Consider in Retirement
Arts and crafts
Taking up painting, pottery, sewing or other creative arts-and-crafts hobbies can help you learn new skills that keep your mind and hands active. Learning creative skills can encourage risk-taking, help you socialize with others, help you relax and increase your self-esteem with each project you complete.
Genealogy
Exploring your family history can provide meaningful psychological benefits for retirees. Tracing the roots of your family tree can also be something of a puzzle since it requires you to keep your mind engaged in your research. Because genealogy is such a popular hobby, it also offers socialization opportunities with other people who take it up.
Going back to school
Going back to school to learn new skills or study a subject you never covered the first time around can keep your mind active and offer opportunities for socialization. As someone full of life experiences, you can also be a valuable source of wisdom for younger students.
Music or language
Learning a new instrument can be a complex task that stimulates your concentration, muscle memory and motor skills, which engages you mentally and physically. Learning a new language can be challenging but provides mental health benefits and is believed to help delay the onset of dementia. Both learning experiences are like giving your mind a workout.
Volunteering and activism
Volunteering for your community, a charity or a cause has multiple benefits for retirees. You can share your experiences, socialize with like-minded people and feel a sense of purpose. You may revive old interests, learn new skills and get extra physical activity. If there’s something you strongly believe in, this is a hobby you should explore.

Whatever hobby you choose to pursue in retirement, remember to get out and get moving. A hobby can make the most of your free time in retirement, allowing you to feel good about what you do while participating in the hobby — and reaping the long-term physical and mental benefits of your hobby all the time.

Last Modified: June 13, 2022

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. National Institute on Aging. (2022, March 28). Participating in Activities You Enjoy as You Age. Retrieved from https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/participating-activities-you-enjoy-you-age
  2. LaPonsie, M. (2019, May 17). 7 Retirement Hobbies that Make You Money. Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/7-retirement-hobbies-that-make-you-money
  3. Sightings, T. (2018, December 20). 8 Tips for Finding a Hobby in Retirement. Retrieved from https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/articles/8-tips-for-finding-a-hobby-in-retirement
  4. Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. (2016, January 14). The Retirement Problem: What Will You Do With All That Time? Retrieved from https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/the-retirement-problem-what-will-you-do-with-all-that-time/
  5. Parker-Pope, T. (n.d.). How to Find a Hobby. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/how-to-find-a-hobby