An essential part of retirement planning is deciding what you’re actually going to do with your time. The money side of things is important but only to the extent that it allows you to live the life that you want to live. Deciding what things to do in retirement can be difficult, but if you don’t plan how you’ll spend your time you run the risk of ending up bored and lonely without the comfort of your pre-retirement routine.
Experts agree that the things you do in retirement can actually improve your overall wellbeing. Diet and exercise is important but certain habits and hobbies can improve your health, reduce boredom, loneliness and increase your life expectancy.
We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of things to do in retirement. Read on for suggestions of fun hobbies day-to-day activities and health-promoting practices to enjoy in retirement.
How can I stay busy in retirement?
There are a few different things to consider, when you’re thinking about what to do in retirement, there’s the day to day stuff that keeps you busy, your larger goals and aspirations and probably most importantly, the things you do for fun! We walk you through the different elements
1) Start a Daily routine
You might be celebrating the end of the commute and looking forward to lie-ins and the end of the alarm clock, but it’s important to craft a daily routine that will promote health and happiness. We are creatures of habit and we thrive with routine.
Perhaps your daily routine will involve reading the paper walking the dog or enjoying your favourite TV programme; whatever works for you. But, research has shown that is beneficial for health to get up and go to bed at similar times every day. It’s also important to make time for light exercise and to ensure that you have some sort of human interaction in your day, since it’s easy, outside of the work environment, to lose connection with other people.
2) Exercise daily
We all know the exercise should be part of our daily routine but that doesn’t mean you need to go and find a boot camp or run a marathon every day for it to count. Gentle movement infused throughout your daily routine counts as exercise too. A gentle walk with the dog, gardening, even cleaning all helps to keep you moving. In office jobs we can often get used to sitting down for long periods of time which is incredibly detrimental to our health. Our bodies are designed to move.
Consider swimming, group exercise classes or perhaps join a gym. Walking is great and the recommendation is to do 10000 steps a day, if that seems too daunting to start with, plan small blocks of gentle movement throughout your day and avoid sitting for long periods.
3) Eat well
The benefits of eating a well-balanced diet are undeniable and there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that diet can reduce our chances of suffering from chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and even dementia.
Now that you have more time, you could try shopping local, growing your own food and cooking from scratch, all great ways to keep you busy in retirement.
Your health is one of the most valuable things you can have in life, especially in retirement. If you’re interested in learning more about the growing evidence-based research into diet and lifestyle visit the Blue zones website or follow our friend Dr Sam Watts from Mind Body Medical, based in Chichester on facebook.
Volunteering Is a great way to strengthen social ties and has been proven to increase your chances of leading a long healthy life. Of 2000 residents who volunteered with two or more causes, 63 percent had a lower rate of mortality, although your motivation does need to be genuinely heartfelt to see these benefits.
There are a million different ways to volunteer. Find a cause to match your skillset or a passion you have – try an animal shelter, Scout group, theatre steward, soup kitchen or teaching assistant. The possibilities are endless.
5) Consider a working retirement
This might sound counterintuitive but working in retirement can actually be good for you. According to the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research, a three-day working week is optimal for the over-40s. Working offers improved cognitive function, reduced stress and better overall wellbeing.
A working retirement doesn’t have to mean that you don’t get to enjoy time off, you could consider phased retirement, permanent semi-retirement, Or enjoy a series of Mini retirements Read more in our blog: The exciting new ways to retire: 5 types of Retirement.
If you’re looking for some inspiration for jobs in retirement check out our article on 7 easy ways to make money in your 60s.
6) Start a business
If you’re done working for somebody else, you might be interested to learn that a recent study found that over 50s make the best entrepreneurs. This is great news for the growing number of retirees starting a business or side hustle in retirement.
In fact, the study found that a 50-year-old entrepreneur is almost twice as likely to start an extremely successful company as a 30-year-old.
Maybe now is the time to pursue your dream of being your own boss. Need inspiration? Check out our article on 7 easy ways to make money in your 60s.
7) Manage your money
We wouldn’t be very good financial advisers if we didn’t include managing your money as an essential thing to do in retirement. It’s important to keep your money invested wisely, to protect it from being eroded by rising prices. Plus, just understanding the most tax-efficient ways to access your money, could save you thousands of pounds. This is where a financial adviser could really be worth their weight in gold.
You don’t want your pension pot dwindling too soon and you might also want to consider the most tax-efficient way to pass wealth onto your family and loved ones. Even if you’ve never had a financial adviser before, now might be a good time to engage one to get a solid plan in place.
If you’d like to talk to a financial adviser about the best way to manage your money in retirement, book a free, no-obligation call today
How can I have fun in retirement?
Now you’ve got the day-to day activities sorted, it’s time to focus on the fun stuff! Boredom and loneliness is pervasive amongst older retirees. Once the novelty of escaping the 9-5 wears off, you might find that you actually miss the social network that it brought you, or that things were more fun, simply because they were in such contrast to your day-to-day routine. It doesn’t have to be the case, there are lots of ways to have fun in retirement:
8) Make friends
We underestimate the importance of having a strong social network but Studies of elderly people and social isolation have concluded that those without adequate social interaction were twice as likely to die prematurely, with the increased mortality risk comparable to that from smoking. The same study also found that loneliness is in fact about twice as dangerous as obesity¹.
The work environment often provides an important social network for people, so when you retire it’s important that you create a strong social network outside of work. In the blue zones, where people live longer and healthier lives, one of the essential parts of their longer and healthier lives are their strong social networks.
So before you put yourself back on a diet, consider the health benefits of getting out and being with people. Take time to catch up with friends and family. start or join a book club. Get involved in group activities or join a committee. Consider connecting with people who are younger than you for a different perspective on life – they might even convince you to try new things as well.
Travel can open us up to the most incredible experiences and leave us with lifelong memories, with all the extra time you’ll have in retirement, it makes sense to make the most of it by enjoying new experiences. In fact, “travel the world” was the top retirement goal given in a Centra Pulse survey of over 66s life ambitions.
The top 40 life ambition list also included:
- go on a world cruise,
- see the northern lights,
- travel on the orient express,
- fly first class and
- go on a road trip across America
If you’re travelling solo there are some excellent travel agencies that can help you plan your trip or even put you in touch with like-minded travellers on group Holidays. Why not consider a retreat or an education-based holiday:
Some of our favourite discoveries include:
N.B. we are not affiliated in any way with any of these businesses.
10) Take advantage of all the discounts!!!
There are so many great things about retiring, the freedom, the time, not having to set an alarm clock etc, plus you have the added perk of senior citizen discounts! If you look, you can find money off a huge number of things. Even if you’re not on the tightest of budgets, it still pays to be savvy to all of the discounts available out there. We’ve compiled a massive list of UK discounts for the over 60s, which includes:
- Shopping discounts
- Eating out discounts and deals
- Days out and sport discounts
- Theatre and cinema discounts
- Travel discounts including rail, bus, coach and hotels
- Health and wellbeing deals
- Free courses and online learning
These discounts could serve as inspiration for trying new things or going to new places. Visit our freebies and discounts for over 60s article for the full list with links.
11) Create a “things that make me happy” list
Bucket lists are great and they’ve been a staple for those approaching milestones for years. The problem is, that they tend to focus on huge goals or ‘peak experiences’, which is great, but it can leave you feeling a bit flat if you’re not chasing a dream or living like a daredevil the rest of the time.
A “things that make me happy” list focuses more on the day to day experiences or life’s simple pleasures. There’s nothing to stop you putting a world cruise on this list, but you might also add ‘enjoying the sun in a beer garden”, ‘enjoying freshly baked croissants from the bakers on a Saturday’ or ‘having lunch with friends’. The point of the things that make me happy list, is to infuse your day-to-day life with positive experiences that make you feel good.
12) Get a hobby
It’s easy to let life’s little pleasures slide especially when we’re busy. Retirement gives you the perfect opportunity to re-explore your interests.
If staving off boredom isn’t enough of an incentive – did you know that participating in hobbies and staying socially active is a vital ingredient of a good quality of life. Boredom is a drag but loneliness has been proven to be more toxic than 20 cigarettes a day and is more likely to cause premature death than obesity! The benefits of taking part in an activity that fosters a sense of connection and purpose cannot be understated.
There are literally thousands of hobbies to choose from. Check out our list of 9 happiness boosting hobbies or see our bumper list of retirement hobby suggestions below:
Fun Hobbies to do in Retirement
Yoga has numerous benefits for both the mind and body. Yoga has been shown to improve your flexibility build strength improve your posture and can help prevent cartilage and joint breakdown. Research shows Yoga is helpful in treating IBS.
Yoga has been proven to improve depression and anxiety and increase serotonin levels. Another important benefit of yoga as you get older is the improved balance it gives you.
The great thing about yoga is the sheer number of varieties around. you’ll be able to find a yoga Style to fit your abilities. if mobility is a challenge yoga nidra – an intensive meditative practice that requires no movement could be the answer – it’s benefits are numerous. There’s chair yoga, gentle somatic yoga, which focuses on gentle movement and repatterning to release tension in your muscles. however, if you’re feeling energetic you could try a powerful vinyasa flow or fit yoga to get the heart rate up.
N.B always check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine if you are on medication or managing any pre-existing conditions.
Research reported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services looked at the social benefits of photography and found that “when community members photograph their daily lives, they may find that the bigger picture begins to emerge”. Through this, a camera can be a gateway to healthy habits, lifestyles and communities.
For retirees, who can often report feeling isolated once they are outside of the workforce, photography offers a creative way to connect with and contribute to the communities they live within. And what’s great is that you no longer need to invest in expensive camera equipment, these days anyone with a smartphone already carries an impressive, highly portable camera in their pocket.
If you’re wondering where to start try the #100happydays project, which challenges participants to post one photo a day of something that made them happy. It’s a great way to experience the benefits of therapeutic photography, mindfulness and gratitude all in one. Find out more at https://100happydays.com/
Pilates is a gentle, low-impact practice that can help strengthen your core muscles and improve flexibility. It’s a great way to reintroduce exercise into your routine and it’s growth in popularity means you can find pilates classes in most towns and cities as well as online classes.
N.B always check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise routine if you are on medication or managing any pre-existing conditions.
4) Get an Allotment
Gardening has long been a favoured hobby of retirees but a meta-analysis of over 22 case studies² has shown a wide range of associated benefits such as reductions in depression, anxiety, and body mass index, as well as increases in life satisfaction, quality of life, and sense of community.
Gardening on your own is still good for you, but an allotment or local community garden brings the added bonus of interacting with people.
5) Join a Choir
Singing is beneficial for improving breathing, posture and muscle tension and releases endorphins, which may be why it has also shown to be effective in pain relief According to the University of Oxford³ group singing not only helps forge social bonds, it acts as an excellent icebreaker. Community singing is effective for bonding large groups, making it an ideal hobby to improve our broader social networks and reduce loneliness in retirement.
With the surge in popularity of choirs, you’ll find rock choirs, soul choirs, gospel, barbershop and traditional classical choirs. Many offer ‘no audition’ joining, meaning you can join whatever your singing standard.
6) Learning an instrument
Learning an instrument is a great brain training exercise to keep your brain active in retirement. According to 2013 research⁴ not only does listening to music give your brain a feel-good dopamine hit, but music can also boost the body’s immune system, lower levels of stress and ease depression. It is also proven to be more effective at decreasing anxiety than prescription drugs.
You don’t even have to pay out for expensive music lessons, YouTube.com has thousands of hours of free tutorial videos available for every instrument imaginable.
7) Creative Writing and Journaling
Do you struggle with sleep or poor memory? Writing has been linked to a number of mental and physical health benefits, including improvements in memory and sleep, plus a reduction in stress levels among other things.
Several studies, for instance, have found that writing about their experiences helps cancer patients to come to terms⁵ with their illnesses, helping the patients to withstand stress and potentially contributing to improved physical outcomes⁶.
In her book ‘The Artist’s Way’ Julia Cameron suggests a practice she calls ‘Morning Pages’ where you sit down every morning and write 3 pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing in a journal. Alternatively you can buy dedicated journals with prompts or why not try Pixar’s free story writing course to get you started.
8) Learning a new language
Being bilingual slows the aging process of the brain and is a critical factor in enriching your worldview and your health. It also improved reading, verbal fluency and intelligence according to the 2014 study by the University of Edinburgh⁷. Plus, the effects are the same whether you learn a language early or later in life so why not sign up to a local evening class.
Duolingo is a great language app available for both iPhone and Android – it gives you daily lessons and challenges, gradually building your vocabulary and language skills and it’s free.
9) Painting and Drawing
Being creative could protect against dementia according to one US study⁸. Painting, drawing and sculpting in old age lowers the risk of developing the first signs of dementia by 73 per cent. Researchers have also found that 45 minutes of free artistic activity, using materials such as marker pens and clay, reduced cortisol levels in 75% of participants⁹.
If you want to connect with your inner creativity and let go of the need to be good – we highly recommend a Watercolour Yoga workshop with Iris Hill
Colouring is not just artists or creative types, it can be enjoyed by everyone. Plus pencils and papers are pretty portable so you can take it with you wherever you go. It’s a simple and positive way to introduce yourself to the concept of ‘mindfulness’ – put simply, living in the present moment¹⁰, where your brain experiences relief by entering a meditative state. Colouring is a great way to unplug from technology.
Not only is pottery great for creating homemade presents for loved ones, but it’s also been scientifically proven¹¹ to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and is thought to benefit those prone to depression. It’s also said to be good for arthritis sufferers since it provides gentles exercise for the wrists and hands. “Considering the amount of brain area devoted to the sensitivity and movement of the hands, it is likely that behaviour maximizing the use of the hands may be the most engaging,” says neuroscientist Dr Kelly Lambert.
Reading can slow cognitive decline, improve sleep enhance social skills and boost intelligence¹². Plus Neuropsychologists at the University of Sussex have discovered that being engaged in a good book for just 6 minutes can reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds. Why not reacquaint yourself to your local library and enjoy books for free. Try combining the therapeutic benefits of reading with the social benefits of joining a book club.
Dancing has a whole range of health benefits. Research shows it can reduce your risk of dementia by an incredible 76%¹³. It’sa fun way to keep fit, can improve fitness and a great way to meet people. It’s never too late to start, either! A group of older adults with an average age of 80 who participated in a 12-week programme of low-impact dance classes was able to reduce their daily intake of pain medication by 39% as a result.
Knitting has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years for it’s meditative benefits with with pop star Harry Styles, actresses Cameron Diaz and Sarah Jessica Parker and supermodel Cara Delevingne all devoted fans. A study published in The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, discovered that 81 percent of respondents with depression reported feeling happy after knitting, with more than half saying they felt ‘very happy.’ Further research has linked knitting with improvements in chronic pain and indicated that it may stave off age-related cognitive decline¹⁴.
15) Forest Bathing
Did you know that just five minutes spent around trees or in green spaces may improve your health¹⁷? The benefits of walking or even just being in nature were highlighted in the 1980s by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture who named them “shinrin-yoku” or Forest Bathing. Apparently the benefits have something to do with ‘phytoncides’, airborne chemicals produced by plants that when breathed in cause our bodies to produce more of a certain type of white blood cells. The proven health benefits of Forest Bathing include:
- Improved immune function
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced stress
- Improved mood
- Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
- Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
- Increased energy levels
- Improved sleep
You don’t need to be hiking to enjoy the benefits either, just a gentle stroll through your local park, gardens or forest will bestow these benefits. Plus if you’re spending a couple of days at a time in the forest, the benefits can last up to 30 days.
16 ) Geocaching
If you want to add a bit more adventure to your outdoor activities, combine the benefits of Forest bathing with the challenge of Geocaching. Think Indiana Jones with a smartphone. Participants use GPS systems and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers called ‘a cache’ all over the world. Each cache presents its own unique challenge and contents. It’s great for any people of all ages and it’s low cost, you’ll need just a few simple pieces of equipment and a little preparation.
Read Hobby Help’s Ultimate beginners guide to Geocaching to get you started
Combine the benefits of being in nature with the added bonus of being able to enjoy freshly picked, nutrient-rich food – If you’re by the sea then try finding Sea Beets, mussels or crabs. Inland look for Elderflowers, edible berries, wild rocket, nettles and edible mushrooms*.
* Be very careful if you have never picked mushrooms before, it’s best to go with a guide to learn which are edible and which are poisonous.
The Woodland Trust has a handy guide to foraging
18) Get a Dog
Owning a dog is a great way to get outdoors and socialise with other dog owners and a year-round reason to get a daily walk in. Owning a pet in general can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels and feelings of loneliness ¹⁵. Ageing patients also express less anxious outbursts when they have a pet in the house¹⁶
The physical and mental health benefits of owning a dog are vast.
If you’re not sure about having a puppy turning your home upside down, why not consider adopting an older dog or try borrowmydoggy.com for all the benefits of pet ownership without the ties.
Fishing can be a great way to get involved in a thriving community and reduce stress. Research shows that focusing on any one activity at hand can be a fast track to stress reduction¹⁸. Janna Superstein, president of fly fishing company Superfly International Inc says “When you’re fishing, you have to be mindful,” “You have to be present in order to observe what’s happening with the fish and catch them.”
Fishinginfo.co.uk a UK based site run by the Angling Trust in partnership with the Environment Agency, Met Office and Post Office. It provides everything you need to plan a fishing trip, from searching for fishing spots to weather and water level updates to information on buying a rod licence and where to buy the kit.
The benefits of cooking as a hobby are two-fold, first you get all the benefits of cooking then you get the benefits of eating delicious home-cooked food! Explore your creativity and learn to cook nutritious meals. It’s great for your health and your wallet, saving you money on expensive ready meals or meals out.
Take inspiration from the vast array of TV chefs or find local cookery classes near you.
A Swedish study found that regular golfers have a 5-year increase in life expectancy. The combination of walking in fresh air, socialising, and the added mental challenge of golf releases mood-enhancing endorphins to make you feel happy and relaxed. Plus when you forgo the golf buggy and cart you could improve your heart health and burn up to 2,500 kCal in a single 18-hole round.¹⁹
Not only are bees fantastic for our environment – bee products are great for our bodies too which is why Beekeeping is the buzzing new health trend we could all benefit from.
The medicinal importance of honey has been documented in the world’s oldest medical literature, and since the ancient times, it has been known to possess antimicrobial and anti-bacterial properties as well as wound-healing activity²⁰.
Other benefits of bee products²¹
- Beeswax moisturisers are often very effective in soothing eczema and other irritations.
- Bee Pollen – Owing to high levels of protein and B vitamins it’s said to be a great energy enhancer. It’s often used to treat inflammatory skin conditions and is said to alleviate the effects of allergies, addiction and even mild asthma.
- Royal Jelly is thought to lower blood pressure and cholesterol while protecting the liver and aiding digestive disorders.
- Beesbread – A mixture of pollen, honey and enzymes sealed inside a comb cell with wax is said to detoxify the liver and enhance the immune system.
- Mead – this fermented Honey and water drink is the stuff of legend. Folklore would have it that, through drinking mead, one might become immortal or, at the very least, enjoy improved health.
23) Take a course
Learning a new skill is like a workout for your brain, and as we age this can help stave off cognitive decline. These days you can find courses on just about anything, why not check out your local area to see what’s on offer or you could try these online sources for free courses:
Future Learn – https://www.futurelearn.com/
Offer an array of free online courses from higher education providers across the world on a diverse range of subjects with everything from business, history and nutrition to Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation.
Barclays – https://events.uk.barclays/teaandteach
Barclay’s Tea and Teach sessions are designed to give you practical and helpful advice on all your online issues. It’s a great way to build your confidence with computers and the internet.
They’re now offering DigiSafe in Cyber Space Tea and Teach which includes everything you need to master the digital world, whilst giving you tips and guidance on how you can keep yourself and your devices safe. The interactive sessions include activities with hints on social media privacy settings, advice on pop-ups, and tips on recognising fraudulent emails.
These sessions are held within branches, libraries or local community centres across the UK. Find your nearest one at https://events.uk.barclays/teaandteach
Age UK and Online Centres Network aim to tackle digital and social exclusion by providing people with the skills and confidence they need to access digital technology. There are over 6000 centres across the UK. Find a course near you.
24) Walking Football
If you love the beautiful game, but your knees or back aren’t quite up to 90 minutes of running, consider joining your local walking football team. Walking football is aimed at the over 50s and is designed to let you enjoy all of the banter and camaraderie, without the injuries!
25) Walking Netball
Opportunities to join in women’s group sport seem to reduce greatly once you get past school age but walking netball is growing in popularity and it offers participants a chance to socialise with the added bonus of exercise. Netball is seeing a renaissance, especially after the England Women’s team reached the finals of the Netball World Cup in 2019. Why not reignite your love for the game? Find out more here: –https://www.englandnetball.co.uk/my-game/walking-netball/
Things to do in retirement on a budget
Retirement is like on big long summer holiday, which is great fun, but it can also be costly so we’ve put together our tops suggestions for things to do in retirement on a budget.
1) Search your local community boards
You’ll often find free or low cost community events taking place close in your area if you check your local community notice boards, these might be arranged by local charities, the council or community groups and it’s worth taking a look.
2) Strategically Volunteer/ part time work
There are so many social benefits of volunteering and working part time, but it might also be a great way of you enjoying otherwise unaffordable hobbies if you’re on a budget. If your passion is the theatre but your budget won’t stretch to regular theatre outings, you could see if any local venues require volunteers, you’ll get access to all of the latest shows. The same is true for sporting events. Season tickets can be costly but most sports clubs rely on volunteers for stewards etc, and this can be a great way to get access to the sports you love without having to pay.
3) Attend free events
Whether it’s summer festivals and fayres, or christmas markets, if you keep your eye out for free events you’ll find plenty of free entertainment on offer all year round. Simply google ‘free events near me’.
4) Enjoy being in nature
Getting outdoors and exploring the natural world is not only good for your health, it’s good for your wallet too! Walking doesn’t cost a penny, find a beautiful park, woods, or coastal walk and just take in the natural beauty on offer. Walk with friends or join a walking group for a more social experience.
5) Get Fit
If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the 10 cities that Parklives covers, they offer a long-term programme of daily fun and free activities in 45 locations. ParkLives encourages people to get outdoors, meet new people and enjoy the parks and green spaces in their local community.
For mor suggestions. Check out our massive list of discounts and freebies for over 60s