Hobbies for the over 55’s: Fulfilling ways to fill your time

As you look ahead to retirement, you’ve probably thought long and hard about your financial options and pension plans. But have you considered how you’ll spend your time? After years of pursuing a career, filling your days could seem a little daunting ­– so now’s the perfect time to think about taking up a new hobby.

The good news is, that studies show retirement is good for your health¹ with retirees enjoying a more active lifestyle and increased time spent on hobbies. Pastimes have moved away from knitting and crosswords, too, and over fifties in the twenty first century take a more active approach to life after work. It’s this dynamic outlook – with more time set aside for exercise and social interaction – that can have a positive effect on your physical and mental wellbeing.

Top of the list for many is travel. From the trip of a lifetime to exploring closer to home, retirement gives you the time to visit places you’ve always wanted to see. But it’s not just relaxed getaways that our older generations pick. Activity and adventure holidays for the over fifties are on the rise, particularly for the solo traveller. Try cookery In Tuscany, yoga in Bali or trekking in the Pyrenees. Trips like these are a great way to see the world and meet new people. And if funding your trip is a stumbling block, equity release could be the answer.

If you think you’ll miss the routine and company of work, volunteering could be for you. As many as two fifths of older people currently do their bit for the local community², with more than a million helping out with three or more charities. Rewarding as well as fun, the most popular choices for women are helping at a charity shop, lunch club or with a children’s charity. While men often volunteer with health charities or a local football club.

You’re never too old to learn, and many people use retirement as an opportunity to further their education. From creative courses in jewellery making or photography to computer skills and foreign languages, ask as your local library for details of day or evening classes in your area. The University of the Third Age (U3A)³ is another option. Via this network of learning groups, older people share knowledge, skills and interests in a friendly environment, for fun. You can become a leader or sign up for a group. These vary by area but include things like wine tasting, astronomy, belly dancing and lace making.

Gardening has always been seen as traditional retirement hobby – it’s great for getting fit and ‘growing your own’. But it’s increasingly being seen as a way to meet new people and help the local community. The RHS4, amongst other organisations, has thousands of UK wide opportunities in local groups who give up a few hours to help maintain local green spaces, plant bulbs and wildlife gardens, litter pick or fundraise. Supporting gardening at grass roots level is a great way to exercise your grey matter and green fingers.

So whether you’re looking forward to investing more time in a hobby you already have, or you’re searching for a new way to spend the days, the options for retirement are endless and exciting. What will you do with your time?