Putting your newfound free time to the best use is one of the first and biggest challenges retirees face after leaving the workforce. 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.
“Having hobbies in retirement is so important for keeping both your mind and body busy,” says Craig Kirsner, president of retirement planning services at Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida. “You’ve probably worked for decades and now you have to keep busy in retirement as well.”
These hobbies can keep you productive and fulfilled throughout your retirement years:
— Stock market trading.
Pickleball is a game similar to tennis, but 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. 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.
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. “Write your memoirs so your grandchildren and great grandchildren will know who you are and what your life was about,” says Elliott Katz, publisher at Award Press in Toronto, Canada. “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
If you have leftover cash laying around and want to put it to beneficial use, learn how to invest wisely. “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.”
Trading stocks can improve your retirement 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,” Janas says.
Another top recommendation for a great retirement hobby is gardening. “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 Carrollton, 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.”
Whether you walk, jog, bike or swim, breaking a sweat is one of the most beneficial hobbies any retiree can embrace. “Every retiree should have at least one exercise-based hobby,” says Caroline Grainger, a certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer Online Personal Trainers in Houston. “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.”
Grainger is particularly keen on retirees walking, at least to start an exercise campaign. “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. “It’s also something that offers real, measurable health benefits, even if you’re only walking for as little as 20 minutes a day.”
Any good hobby should give retirees a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and golf does that in several ways. “During our working years, purpose and fulfillment is largely provided by our jobs,” says Jason Siperstein, a certified financial planner and president of Eliot Rose Wealth Management in West Warwick, Rhode Island. “Once we retire, we no longer have our routine or daily social connections, so these must be recreated.”
That’s where golf comes in. “Golf is (one) social, (two) measurable, (three) challenging and (four) routine,” Siperstein says. “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.”
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 Time Value Millionaire, a Florida-based money and finance advisory platform. “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.”
Another hobby on the giving front is mentoring business professionals, young people and students. “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.”
[READ: 25 Things to Do When You Retire.]
Make Your Hobby Unique to You
Aim to choose hobbies that meet your unique lifestyle needs. “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 lead licensed Medicare advisor at Chapter 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 has counseled many Americans approaching retirement on what to do with their lives. “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.”
More from U.S. News