Here at the AgingOptions Blog, we’ve seen (and shared) quite a few articles that try to answer the question, “How will you spend your free time once you’re fully retired?” While many pre-retirees to struggle to answer that query, we suspect there are many who think the question is ridiculous – because they know exactly how they plan to spend those extra hours. They’ll finally have the time to immerse themselves in the hobby they enjoy so much.
At times those of us who can’t really think of a hobby we enjoy feel a sense of envy toward the folks who love golfing, quilting, hiking, woodworking, stamp collecting or bird watching. For every senior who has a hobby they love, there’s another senior in search of a new favorite pastime. So with that in mind we’re calling your attention to this recent article from US News in which reporter Brian O’Connell brings us eight so-called “great retirement hobbies” for you to consider.
Our point sharing this article is to get you thinking. Entering retirement without activities you enjoy is a recipe for isolation and even depression. By contrast, hobbies can keep you more active and engaged, physically and emotionally. Let’s see which eight pastimes O’Connell recommends.
Big Retirement Challenge: Using Free Time Well
“Putting your newfound free time to the best use is one of the first and biggest challenges retirees face after leaving the workforce,” O’Connell writes. “There’s more family time and maybe a few hours of part-time work each week, but a good chunk of that free time can be usefully occupied with a good hobby.”
Here are a handful of hobbies that O’Connell highlights for those looking for something new!
Join the Growth of Pickleball
It may be a game with a strange name, but pickleball ( a game that originated here in the Pacific Northwest) is growing like wildfire. It’s appropriate for almost any age – a tennis-like game played on a much smaller court.
“Pickleball is good for retirees, as it’s most commonly played at large ‘open play’ sessions where partners and opponents are mixed and matched,” says Max Ade, co-founder of Pickleheads in Atlanta. O’Connell writes, “Pickleball courts are free in many retirement communities, although you may have to reserve a playing time. Lessons from a pickleball professional can be had for around $50 an hour.”
Even folks who have never played sports are discovering pickleball. For more on this fast-growing game, check out this recent look at the sport from the Washington Post.
Writing, whether for pleasure or for publication, is a great hobby for seniors. “Health and wellness professionals have long held that jotting down your thoughts and telling your story is a valuable emotional release, with journaling getting particular praise from the mental health community,” O’Connell explains in his US News article.
Elliott Katz, Award Press publisher in Toronto, believes that writing a memoir is a great way to use your time. “Write your memoirs so your grandchildren and great grandchildren will know who you are and what your life was about,” he says. “Write a book of the life wisdom you want to share with your children and great grandchildren. If you succeeded in business, share the lessons you learned. If you had a good marriage, share your secrets of success.”
Stock Market Trading
Can investing be a hobby? Certainly, if you have a little money set aside to play with. Just be careful you don’t risk more than you can afford to lose.
“One of the best under-the-radar hobbies for retirees is learning how to trade stocks,” says Kyle Janas, founder of Opinicus Holdings in Dallas. “Retirees have money invested in the stock market that they are drawing from to fund their lifestyle, and one way to grow that sum is to learn how to trade.”
Can trading stocks improve your retirement? Janas says yes, in multiple ways. “Two of the main benefits of this activity include keeping the mind sharp by learning a new skill and staying on top of their finances,” he says. We suggest that, rather than playing the market on your own, you join an investment group – a great way to enjoy social interaction with like-minded retirees.
When it comes to hobbies in retirement, don’t overlook your own backyard! Gardening may seem like an all-too-common hobby suggestion for retirees, but that’s because gardening has so many benefits for people of all ages.
“Gardening can be as simple as planting a few vegetables in your backyard to investing in or building a greenhouse for more extensive plant cultivation,” says Dan Gallagher, a certified nutritionist at Aegle Nutrition in Texas. “I recommend growing vegetables and herbs for retirees, since it will help maintain a diet containing fresh, varied and nutrient-packed items for continued health in retirement.”
Gardening also gets you out in the fresh air, and the bending and stretching that come with gardening are great for keeping yourself limber. (Just don’t overdo it! Get help lifting those heavy bags of potting soil.)
We’ve spoken before on the blog about the important of gentle, enjoyable exercise for retirees. Caroline Grainger, a certified personal trainer in Houston, suggests that breaking a sweat – even a light one – is a perfect hobby after retirement. “Every retiree should have at least one exercise-based hobby,” she says. “Exercise can do a lot to keep you young both physically and mentally, and help to extend your quality years and cut down on hospital visits in the long run.”
But if exercise doesn’t seem like your thing, Grainger really urges you to start with something as simple as walking. “Walking is a great choice for a few reasons. It’s easy enough for just about anyone to start, even if they weren’t fit in their working years. It offers great opportunities for socializing, and in the right neighborhood, it can also get you out and about and socially engaged,” Grainger says.
She adds, “It’s also something that offers real, measurable health benefits, even if you’re only walking for as little as 20 minutes a day.” We might add that this a good reason why owning a dog can keep you healthier – since Fluffy is going to demand that walk, rain or shine.
Is it a retirement cliché? Maybe, but golf is the go-to retirement hobby for a reason: it can give retirees a sense of purpose and fulfillment often missing in life after employment. It’s also excellent exercise when done right.
As Rhode Island-based financial planner Jason Siperstein told US News, “During our working years, purpose and fulfillment is largely provided by our jobs. Once we retire, we no longer have our routine or daily social connections, so these must be recreated. Golf is (one) social, (two) measurable, (three) challenging and (four) routine. This is why golf is so great. It hits all four lifestyle themes and allows us to remain connected while learning and growing as people, which does not stop in retirement.”
O’Connell writes, “Doing good by doing well has been a reliable and consistent refrain of the nonprofit sector for decades. Volunteering is a worthy calling for retirees who have the time to make a difference where their help is needed most.”
“One of the best hobbies for retirees is volunteering,” says Matthew Rowlings, founder of Florida-based Time Value Millionaire. “A good hobby keeps us socially and mentally active. If we can volunteer our time for something that we have a passion for, it not only helps out organizations with tight budgets, but also provides a personal sense of meaning in our lives.”
On a related note to volunteering, serving as a mentor to business professionals, young people, and students can be another extremely fulfilling hobby in retirement.
“Retirees possess experiences that most individuals in our society don’t have,” Rowlings says. “Therefore, they offer a unique perspective to teach and pass down any knowledge that you can’t necessarily find in a classroom setting.”
Make Your Hobby Unique to You
“For retirees, hobbies are wonderful because they offer people a way to contribute to their communities, find new friends, learn new skills or just have a great time enjoying a much-loved experience,” says Ari Parker, a Medicare advisor in Phoenix. “Hobbies can be a fulfilling way for many people across the country to spend time doing the things they enjoy with people they love.”
Parker understands the landscape: she has counseled many Americans on what to do with themselves after retirement. Her advice? Whatever you choose to make your hobby during retirement, make sure it fits your unique needs and lifestyle.
“The most important thing when it comes to hobbies is that you find something that appeals to your personality,” Parker says. “Some people may prefer educational hobbies such as learning a new language, while others may like to take a pottery class. Other people enjoy group activities such as learning a new dance, such as how to salsa, while others may prefer more cerebral activities, such as participating in a book club.” Your hobby is a reflection of who you are.
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(originally reported at https://money.usnews.com)