Throughout our lives, there are various activities that we participate in that help to define who we are. For some, work provides that definition; for others, raising children. But when retirement nears and children have grown, it can be easy to become rudderless if you cannot figure out how to channel that energy into a new activity.
There are also known health risks associated with boredom in retirement, including clinical depression, anxiety and even a higher risk of developing dementia. While many experts suggest approaching retirement as a process rather than an event, that can often be easier said than done. It’s not easy to transition into a new phase of life, but choosing to participate in hobbies in retirement can be one way to overcome the challenge.
The Benefits of Hobbies For Senior Citizens
One of the big benefits of retirement is being able to pursue your interests in a way that you were never able to before, either due to time constraints or life circumstances. But in addition to trying new activities, picking up new hobbies in retirement can also help to keep you healthy.
The National Institutes of Health’s Institute on Aging has found that participating in activities you enjoy can help to support healthy aging. They cite research that has found that the benefits of hobbies for senior citizens include:
- A lower risk of developing certain illnesses, such as dementia and heart attacks
- A greater sense of happiness and well-being
- More preparation to cope with the loss of a spouse or other loved ones
- A marked improvement in cognitive abilities and memory recall
Many of the benefits of exploring new hobbies in retirement overlap with the benefits of maintaining social engagements as you age, which is no coincidence. NIH’s Institute on Aging contributes this overlap to significant research that has shown that isolation in old age is one of the greatest health risks to seniors today, and that “engaging in social and productive activities you enjoy, like taking an art class or becoming a volunteer in your community or at your place of worship, may help to maintain your well-being.”
Hobbies For Seniors To Pursue In Retirement
When many of us think of the word “hobby,” we think of stamp collecting or bird watching, but there are many different, and exciting, types of hobbies that seniors can pursue in retirement. And while it’s great to have a hobby that you enjoy doing alone, it’s important to your physical and mental health to also include hobbies that allow you to connect with other people.
We know that available resources vary from town to town, but there are some general hobbies for seniors that are accessible to you no matter where you live:
- Join A Book Club. Although reading is typically a solo activity, gathering with a group of peers to discuss a book can be rewarding, both mentally and socially. In fact, many libraries and community colleges have launched adult book club programs to help fellow readers come together and facilitate an interesting discussion. In addition to being one of the best hobbies for senior citizens, reading also helps to keep your mind sharp and ward off memory loss.
- Volunteer For A Good Cause. Connect with a cause you feel strongly about through a local nonprofit or your place of worship and volunteer your time each week. Volunteering can not only be incredibly rewarding on an emotional and spiritual level, it has also been proven to be physically rewarding as well. Volunteer work, specifically for seniors, has been linked to lower mortality rates, lower rates of suicide and depression and also lower blood pressure. The best part about volunteering is allowing yourself to be surprised by how well you end up connecting to people who can be very different from you.
- Take Piano Lessons. Every town has a music teacher and if you’ve always been interested in learning how to play an instrument, this is your chance. Learning how to play a new instrument is one of the better hobbies in retirement because it requires a lot of patience, concentration and practice to master the new skill. Learning how to play the piano can help relieve stress, improve your memory capacity and enhance your coordination, among many other major benefits to playing an instrument.
- Play More. Whether you want to play golf, cards, or a character in a play through community theatre, getting involved in a hobby that allows you to socialize while engaged in an activity is ideal for seniors. Group hobbies for seniors, such as tennis, bridge, mah jong, yoga, or talent competitions, are wonderful ways to meet new people with similar interests. These activities can not only help to keep the mind sharp, but the more physical of these activities can help to keep your body in shape as well.
The Keys To Aging Well
The social interaction you gain through pursuing different hobbies in retirement, is only one facet of aging well. In addition to creating happy social experiences in retirement, you also need to commit to exercising regularly and maintaining a nutritious diet in order to continue to feel healthy, both inside and out, as you age.