With an average UK life expectancy averaging around eighty years old, the prospect for most people is a retirement of around fifteen years. Of course, for an increasing number it could be twice that. It’s a significant length of time and offers many opportunities for activities new and revisited.
Some people embrace retirement with relish and soon find themselves every bit as busy as they were before retiring. For others the prospect of giving up work combined with the perception that they have now entered “God’s waiting room” leaves them depressed and anxious. It is for both groups, but particularly the latter, that we offer a list of ways that could help make your retirement a fulfilling and thoroughly enjoyable period of your life.
Best Things to Do in Retirement & Ideas for Hobbies to Take Up in Retirement
Retirement means that you are free from the constraints of work holidays and can take your holiday anytime of the year and consequently exploit the best travel deals. With this freedom you now have the chance to enjoy your dream holiday, whether it be a cruise or something more adventurous such as a safari or a trekking holiday in Nepal.
Adventurous holidays as well as gap years, are becoming increasingly popular amongst over 50s.
Cycling is a wonderful way to stay fit and explore the countryside, whether it be in the UK or perhaps jumping on a ferry and touring parts of France, Belgium or the Netherlands. If, however, you are feeling very adventurous you could book onto a group cycling holiday in India or other far flung destinations. There are also many local cycling clubs around to join and make the cycling experience a thoroughly social one too.
Walking offers many of the same benefits as cycling. It can be tailored to your level of fitness and there are numerous walking clubs around providing attractive and manageable walks throughout the year which are located in virtually every part of the UK. There are also a host of walking holidays destinations available depending how adventurous you are feeling from the UK to as far as Patagonia or Vietnam. Walking comes in a number of guises and it is worth looking at rambling, hiking and Nordic Walking clubs if you fancy looking into different types of walking experience.
Similarly, fitness walking is something everyone can get started with to keep active and fit.
Swimming has numerous health benefits and may be a more attractive option than cycling or walking for those with more limited mobility. Many public swimming pools offer sessions specifically for the over 50s with titles such as “Active for Life”. If you are lucky enough to live on the coast, swimming in the sea may be an attractive option. However, there is a limited number of months in the year when all but the hardiest would consider the water temperature conducive.
For the truly wild, discover the joys of wild swimming too.
Skiing is a fun and exhilarating activity in which you can enjoy a healthy activity against the backdrop of a winter wonderland. Additionally, most Europe ski resorts offer good lift pass deals for skiers over 65 with some allowing those aged over 75 to ski for free.
Snorkelling is a fun way to see the beauty of the underwater world without leaving the water’s surface. It’s a regular activity for people who vacation to island getaways. it’s also a great way to stay healthy and fit, improving breathing, joint mobility and cardiovascular health.
Yoga is a very gentle and relaxing technique which helps to release stiffness and tension from the body and is therefore ideal for retirees. Few over 50s retain their strength and vitality in later years and yoga classes can be an ideal way to rejuvenate the body and revitalise the mind. A local yoga class for the over 50s and 60s can be found with a quick search of the internet.
Tai chi has grown in popularity amongst the older generation. While the health benefits of this exercise benefits everyone, it is particularly useful for combating issues common in the over 50s including a loss of muscle strength, reduced flexibility and poor balance. Tai chi is suited to people of all levels of fitness. You can get a taste of what’s involved by watching a class on YouTube or getting a book or DVD.
Ballet is a gentle and beneficial type of dancing. It improves strength and flexibility. Classical or contemporary ballet are often practiced to classical music, so if you enjoy the music, you will probably enjoy this type of dancing.
Jazz dancing incorporates a wide range of dance styles and is often practiced to modern pop music. It is upbeat and uses the entire body with both basic and complex moves which are great for cardiovascular health. Dance schools have classes for “beginners”, so if you’re not confident in your ability you can try the basic steps a go.
Latin dancing comes from Latin America and incorporates whole body movement using a combination of both isolated and synchronized moves. It uses a variety of styles of music and is great fun and an enjoyable type of exercise. There are studios all over the UK that offer free introductory classes.
Ballroom dancing is traditionally done in couples and embraces traditional dances such as the Foxtrot, Cha-Cha and Waltz. It is great for coordination and balance. There are a number of places that offer ballroom dancing across the UK and it is a style of dancing particularly enjoyed by the over 60s, which means that you are likely to find likeminded friends.
Zumba dancing combines aerobics and dance. It is performed to upbeat music, usually in large classes and is designed to be a whole-body workout using dance-based movements. Routines are made up of a variety of styles, from samba to salsa and there’s usually something to suit everyone in the class. This cardiovascular exercise boosts your metabolism and help aid weight loss.
Competitive sports offer the opportunity for many retirees to continue an existing activity with the benefit of having more time available to participate. However, for others, retirement provides the chance to become involved in a sport for the first time. Either way, competitive sports can provide you with a regular chance for a social meet-up.
Golf is a low impact activity which puts less stress and strain on joints than many other competitive sports. As such, golf is a sport that can be played deep into retirement. If you are intending to play regularly it may be worth becoming a member of a golf club, alternatively simply paying green fees might be a sensible way to start. If you want an initial taster you could try “pitch and putt” first.
Badminton is a very popular sport among retirees with many sports and leisure centres having sessions and clubs devoted exclusively to the over 50s. Most of these sessions involve doubles badminton which means less running around than singles and increases the social element of the game. Like many competitive sports, badminton can be played either as a leisure sport or as a competitive sport if you want to play more seriously. There are many health benefits to playing badminton whichever route into the sport you take.
Tennis involves more mobility than badminton and fine weather, although there are some sports centres offering indoor tennis courts. A popular version of the game among retirees is “short tennis” which is played with soft balls and a lower net and smaller rackets than standard tennis. Tennis, like badminton, can be played as a very social leisure activity. Alternatively, there are senior leagues for the more competitive retirees.
Table-tennis is fun and fast and has great health benefits. As there is a low risk of injury, table tennis is enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. It has the additional benefit that it improves your reflexes, hand-eye coordination and balance. It’s great for working up a sweat without having to run around, and increases your heart rate, keeping your heart strong and healthy.
Bowls has long been the preserve of the over 60s and there are bowls clubs in virtually every town and village in the country, largely populated by “silver” players. It is a sport ideally suited to the less mobile, but also offers the opportunity to play competitive matches in local leagues, increasing the social aspect of the sport. The indoor form of the game played on a “carpet” allows play throughout the year and is every bit as popular as the traditional outdoor version of the game.
Walking football is a sport growing in popularity among those who are reluctant to hang up their boots. However, it is also an ideal sport for the retiree who is looking for a fun game and a good social time and may not have played football since their school days.
Archery is a good sport for the over 60s as it only requires a small amount of walking to fetch the arrows. The sport, which primarily works the arms, shoulders and upper back, is beneficial for building stronger muscles. Although there is a fair amount of standing involved, archers can also sit on a stool or in a wheelchair while participating. This means that people with a wide range of mobility issues are still be able to exercise and have fun.
Fishing is a very relaxing sport and can be participated in either from a river bank, lake side or off the end of a pier. Aside from the fishing equipment, a licence may be required to fish in certain locations. While it can be a wonderful escape from the noise and pace of everyday life, there are anglers clubs and competitions if you want there to be a social aspect to the activity.
Gardening is an excellent activity for the retiree,. As well as the physically beneficial activities such as digging, planting and watering, there is also the added benefit of harvesting flowers and organically grown food. Beyond the gardening itself, there are also associated hobbies such as cooking and floor arranging that can be enjoyed. If you don’t have your own garden there can be the option of allotments where you can share your gardening experience with other allotment sharers.
Join a choir
Singing is a highly enjoyable and therapeutic activity and there are a variety of choirs you can join throughout the country depending on your musical taste. There are usually no auditions involved nor a requirement that you should be able to read music, although it can help. There are on-line directories of choirs to help you find the right one for you. Often a choir will work towards a concert, which can add a sense of fulfilment on top of the weekly social gathering.
Join an Amateur Theatre Company
Amateur theatre companies offer the opportunity to be involved in putting on a show, from acting on stage to backstage roles such as costume, set building, lighting, sound and publicity. As well as the fun rehearsal, there is the excitement of show week and the usual after show party. It is one of the most social activities around,
Join a Book Club
If the limelight is not for you, but you love a good read, a book club could be for you. Clubs meet at varying intervals from weekly to monthly allowing members a chance to read through and then discuss a variety of books usually suggested by other members of the group. If you are housebound there are also on-line book clubs you can get involved in.
Similar to book clubs, writing circles comes together, often monthly, for members to share literary thoughts and listen to and discuss the writings of its members. For all those (and there are many) who feel they have a novel inside them, a writing circle is a wonderful social forum to try out ideas and get supportive feedback and ideas.
Bridge is a game as strategic and intellectually demanding as chess, but is also an inherently social game. This makes it an ideal activity for retirees, because it’s well known that staying socially connected is key to healthy aging. Bridge involves a several players and requires good communication skills. It’s the combination of the strategic and social aspects of the game that make it so attractive.
In town and cities and many villages through the UK there are adult classes on offer throughout the day which allow retirees to try out new skills and experience learning opportunities that both extend themselves creatively and intellectually. Here is just a small sample of those that you can usually find.
Art classes can involve painting in watercolours, acrylics or oils. They can also embrace 3D art forms such as pottery. It is an activity which improves cognition and focuses attention, leads to self-expression and self-discovery and nurtures a sense of self and self-esteem. As well as being a social activity, it is likely to stimulate participants into creating pieces of artwork at home.
Photography, like Art, allows participants to learn new skills and develop their creativity. It also provides the opportunity for class members to go out and photograph the environment around them developing new insights into the visual world. Photography requires students to memorise camera options and to think about composition and visual balance. You will have to consider colour and shapes, and try to combine them in a visually pleasing photograph.
There are a variety of different jewellery classes available, from beading & bead work to fine jewellery involving gold & silver smithing. As well as developing new skills and creativity you will often have a piece of jewellery to take home with you at the end of a lesson or course.
Cooking classes can offer guidance into effective seasoning techniques, along with different approaches to cooking common meals. Classes may be themed and teach participants about specific type of food or they could teach gourmet cooking skills. Classes aimed at retirees may offer advice on cooking for specific diets. This might include ways to make low-salt meals that taste good and techniques for creating highly nutritious meals.
Learn a language
Learning a new language not only helps to keep your brain active, but can also increase your social interactions. While learning a new language there are opportunities, either on holiday or on-line, to practice speaking to native speakers. Through these conversations and through classes, it is possible to learn about different cultures and broaden your horizons.
Working in Retirement
For some people the idea of giving up work altogether is an anathema to them and they will look around for ways to continue working and making a contribution to society. Fortunately, for these people, there are many areas in which their services are often welcome.
There are many examples of voluntary work available, from helping with literacy in schools as a voluntary classroom support to driving elderly people to and from hospital appointments. There are also many positions available as tour guides, some voluntary and some paid which could be both interesting and bring you into contact with a large number of people. There are many organisations crying out for volunteers and retirees are amongst the best group of people to fill these roles.
Another area in which you could make a valuable contribution if you were so minded is local politics. There are a variety of roles from local councillors to party activists which could fill a substantial part of your life and help keep you involved with your local community.
Start a business
Starting a business can be fun if it’s approached cautiously and with careful planning. It may be that you have harboured dreams of running your own business. It is best to play to your strengths and to start a business in an area you already know plenty about. The possibilities are endless and could be anything from starting a consultancy business to becoming a local handyman or selling jam and homemade produce.
And if none of the above list appeals to you and you just want to get away from everything and everybody, you could always learn to fly!