Following years of hard work, retiring brings you the well-earned rewards of freedom and time. There are endless things you can do in this new life stage, from learning a skill to exploring unfamiliar places, making it a joyous period.
However, deciding what to do with this new freedom can be difficult for some. The sudden expanse of time can be slightly overwhelming but is not something you should be intimidated by.
It’s important to embrace the excitement of this period and fill it with enriching activities of your choice. Whether you’re seeking thrills or relaxation, your retirement is the time when you get to decide.
Why it’s Important to Keep Busy When Retired
While retirement is generally a happy time in life, there are risks you should be aware of. Leaving work sometimes causes people to become less active and social, which can negatively affect health.
Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2013 found that pensioners face an increased likelihood of developing physical and mental ailments. This was partly due to ageing, but also because retired people are more likely to be lonely or inactive.
This means that staying busy and social as a retiree is vital to reduce the risk of any physical and mental illnesses. Keeping your body moving and maintaining relationships will help to protect your health and quality of life.
To help get you to do this, Lottie has created a list of 47 things to do in retirement. Read on to discover more about the importance of making your retirement a fulfilling time and to gain inspiration on hobbies you could take up…
Ideas for Your Retirement
The first thing you should do in your retirement is decide how you’re going to spend it. Setting yourself goals and aspirations in the form of a bucket list will provide a structure, which may be lacking once you have stopped working.
Although relaxation is often a priority for pensioners, the way you spend your retirement is your choice and you shouldn’t be intimidated by the thought of a new challenge.
This year, 82-year-old Mildred Wilson completed her second Tough Mudder – a difficult and competitive race across a muddy obstacle course. Meanwhile, 2018 saw 106-year-old Jack Reynolds become the oldest person in the world to ride a zip wire.
Both stories show that, while everyone has their own limitations, ageing doesn’t have to stop you from taking on new adventures.
Retiring can be a large life change and reflecting this by moving to a new home is often sensible. Given that commuting to work is no longer a concern, retirees frequently downsize to a more picturesque or entertaining location for older people.
If you’d like to stay in the area you live in, rather than moving, redecorating your home can be a fantastic alternative. From painting walls to upcycling furniture, refreshing your home can help you embrace your new life stage.
The planet is filled with interesting places and cultures, which you often don’t get to see when working full-time. Whether you backpack around South America, cruise around the Caribbean or move to Europe, retirement is your chance to get out there and see the world!
Volunteering around your local area or for a cause you care about can be a highly rewarding activity at any point in life. Contributing your time can provide confidence and a sense of fulfilment while offering the opportunity to learn new skills.
Years of life experience mean retirees often have wisdom and skills that many younger people could benefit from. Becoming a mentor to someone younger can be an enriching way to continue using your knowledge once retired.
If you’re interested in mentoring someone, the Prince’s Trust has resources that can guide that relationship and provide structure to it.
Although many people happily take their pension and leave their jobs, others continue working far past retirement age, often on a part-time basis. Some retirees do this due to satisfaction in their work, whilst others simply want a little extra cash to top up their pension.
It’s common for companies to take retirees back on reduced working hours, so you could contact your employer about returning. However, you can also apply for part-time jobs in new industries if you would like a change.
Got an idea for a business that you’ve never had time to pursue? While being a more full-time retirement occupation, becoming an entrepreneur can be a fulfilling endeavour to dedicate your time to.
Building your own business can bring pride, as you see your idea grow and flourish. Further, being your own boss means that you’re less likely to lose that sense of retirement freedom.
Advice on starting a business can be found on GOV.UK.
A great way to prevent loneliness is to deepen your connection to your community. Whether it’s getting to know the people you live close to or learning more about the history, you should explore your local area.
If you’re already familiar with your local history or are eager to journey further from home, the rich history and nature to be found in the UK can provide endless discovery and adventure.
If you’d like to discover more about the UK, you may consider joining the National Trust. Protecting natural and historic properties across the world, the Trust allows members to visit and learn from their sites.
While exercise is important at all ages, staying active as you get older is key to maintaining your health, mobility, and mental wellbeing. Common ailments amongst ageing people, such as arthritis and heart disease, can be improved by an active lifestyle.
You should include a mixture of types of exercise in your regime, with the aim of getting your heart rate up and keeping your muscles strong. For further advice, visit the NHS page on exercise as you get older.
If you’ve struggled with exercise previously, adding a competitive or social element could increase your enjoyment. Playing a sport with other people can therefore be a great way to make exercise more engaging.
Lottie’s top five sports for retired people are:
Low impact exercises like yoga and tai chi can also be incredibly beneficial for your mental and physical health. The focus on core strengthening in these exercises is wonderful for mobility and balance, while the centrality of concentration and tranquillity promotes mental wellbeing.
There are classes for tai chi and yoga across the country. However, you can also learn them at home with the help of online tutorials, such as Yoga with Adriene.
Dancing can improve your posture, fitness, and confidence. Whether you take up ballroom dancing with a friend or join a street dance class, moving to music is a joyous and nourishing way to spend your retirement.
If you’re interested in learning to dance, The Royal Academy of Dance provides free online ‘Silver Swans Classes’.
The saying tells us that “everyone has a book in them” and retirement is the perfect time to write it if you do.
When authoring a novel, you can include anything you want, drawing on and exploring your own life experiences as you wish. This can be both a fun and therapeutic practice.
If you’d like to try it but are unsure of how to start, Future Learn has free courses on fiction writing that can help.
If you’re interested in literature, but you’d rather not spend your retirement writing, joining a reading group may be for you.
In such a group, you would be recommended new books, which you would read and discuss with other members. Joining is therefore an exciting way to learn more about literature and to meet new people.
Many local areas have their own book clubs, which can usually be found through Reading Groups.
There are plenty of creative hobbies you can take up, but painting and drawing are simple to start from the comfort of your own home. Further, they can be enjoyed without investing in expensive equipment – simple supplies from a local shop will be enough to begin.
From acrylics to watercolours, tutorials teaching painting skills can be found on YouTube, via channels such as Jay Lee Painting. If you’d like a more structured approach to learning artistic skills, you can join paid online courses at London Art College.
Playing an instrument has countless benefits for your brain, including relieving stress and improving your memory. If that’s not reason enough to learn, you’ll also fill your home with the joy and fun of music.
Lottie’s top five instruments for retirees to learn are:
If you don’t wish to hire a tutor, you can also find useful tutorials on YouTube. Channels such as Pianote provide detailed lessons to get you started.
Acquiring a second language allows conversation with a whole new group of people and is useful if you plan to travel when retired. Additionally, learning a new language can strengthen your mind and improve mental agility.
Language apps, such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, can be downloaded to your phone and carried everywhere, making it easy to integrate the learning into your daily routine. If you’d prefer a more structured approach, you could join a local or online course.
While crafting skills generally originate from work and necessity, a lot of people now practice them for leisure. Crafting an item can be rewarding and the process therapeutic.
Examples of crafting skills you could learn include:
YouTube has useful videos teaching crafting, such as how to whittle a spoon, while most supplies required for crafts can be found on Amazon. Learning can be fun, relaxing and the result is wonderful items to gift or keep.
Posting to apps such as TikTok or Instagram encourages creativity and can make you feel more connected to the wider world.
Although stereotypes may say that older people are less technologically savvy, you shouldn’t be discouraged. There are plenty of elderly influencers posting charming and hilarious content, which has been viewed by thousands.
Recent research has found that gaming can improve brain function and memory in older adults. This is due to games being able to expose people to novel environments and tasks that can keep your mind sharp.
Picking up a controller and diving into the world of games can therefore be fun and beneficial for you.
Hiking has numerous benefits for your health, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen your bones. However, hiking’s main appeal is that it takes you out to discover nature.
The UK has a large network of hiking trails to explore, which cross through stunning landscapes and wildlife. These can be found easily through National Trail.
Growing plants and produce, whether at home or in an allotment, can be extremely satisfying. Watching as seeds you’ve planted grow and bloom can foster a feeling of achievement, as well as a connection to nature.
If you’d like to test out your green fingers but don’t have the space to garden at home, you can search for an allotment at The National Allotment Society.
A great way to take in fresh air, fishing is one of the most popular pastimes in the UK. Hours can be spent with friends enjoying the outdoors and angling for the best catch.
Besides a way to learn a new skill, you’ll need equipment and special licenses to start fishing. The Canal River Trust has further advice on what you’ll need as a beginner fisherman.
Sharing your love and leisure time with your children, siblings, or extended family will enrich your entire life and is amongst the most worthwhile things you can do. Retirement is the perfect opportunity to do it more often.
Whether you invite them over for tea or take a day trip together, you’re unlikely to regret any time with family.
For those with grandchildren, spending time with them will always be fun and rewarding. Research has even indicated that people of varying ages spending time together can improve the wellbeing of both.
If your grandchildren are older, you can socialise with them, so try arranging a meal or a trip to the cinema. For those with younger grandchildren, you might instead offer to care for them when their parents need a night to themselves.
Although many people are used to having thousands of photos stored on phones, keeping physical copies in a scrapbook is useful for sharing and securing memories. A scrapbook can be shown to others and passed along to other members of your family.
Try printing out some of your digital photos and arranging them into a scrapbook of valued memories. If possible, do this with a friend or loved one, so you can reminisce as you create the album.
Loneliness can be an increasing worry as people age, but it’s never too late to make new friends. Doing so can even add fun and excitement to your retirement.
So, while it can be daunting, meeting people is a challenge that’s worth taking on. If you’re unsure of how to, Meet Up can help you locate people with similar interests, while Age UK run Friendship Centres to connect pensioners.
Just as it’s never too late to make new friends, it’s also never too late for love. Finding a partner to accompany you through retirement is possible if you would like to.
The first way to meet people is to socialise. For example, joining a club with people that share an interest of yours is an ideal place to start.
You can also look for a companion through online dating, which makes arranging dates easier than ever. Sites like eHarmony are great for people of all ages, while there are also specialist sites for older daters, such as Silver Singles.
A hobby to lead you around the globe, the wide variety of wine provides ample opportunity for new experiences. Whether tasting in your own dining room or a vineyard abroad, developing your palate to sense each note a wine contains is an adventure.
If you’d like to start, Vivino has many tips on wine tasting for beginners, while full courses can be found through Decanter.
Baking is a wonderful skill that allows you to create delicious treats for yourself and your loved ones. It fills your kitchen with love and joy, as well as tasty food.
To learn how to bake, you could buy a cookbook or attend a lesson. Online help can be found on BBC Good Food, which has whole guides for baking beginners, or YouTube, which has channels dedicated to cooking.
You’ve most likely planned and saved for the future already by the time you reach retirement age, and it’s important to plan so that your savings don’t run out. Once you start withdrawing your pension, you’ll need to regularly check your plan and any investments to ensure they last.
A full guide on taking your pension can be found at MoneySavingExpert, which offers advice on using the funds and planning for the future.
While you should be cautious with money, you must balance this with fun and a gift to celebrate your retirement is a reasonable treat. Whether you splash out on a dream holiday or purchase a memento to mark the occasion, pampering yourself a little in retirement is essential.
Finally, remember that your retirement belongs to you. This list has many suggestions for how you can spend your days, but the choice is yours.