01 February 2024

Once you reach retirement, your schedule might look a little lighter than before. So, it’s a great time to embrace the things you’ve been putting off, never had time to do or have always fancied trying.

Studies have shown that engaging in leisure activities in retirement can improve your mental and physical health and reduce any feelings of isolation. Here’s some ideas on how to keep busy and active to make the most of your retirement.

Meet new people

Social opportunities can dwindle in retirement once you’ve finished work or your children, if you have them, have flown the nest. But making an effort to meet new friends at this time of life can help boost your wellbeing while opening you up to new interests.

There are lots of ways you can meet new like-minded people by trying new hobbies, learning a new skill or getting outdoors. Some ideas for where to meet new people include:

  • book clubs, writing groups and art classes
  • choirs
  • allotments and community gardens
  • dog walking
  • walking and running clubs, and sports teams
  • places of worship.

Give back to a good cause

With more free time, retirement is an ideal opportunity to give back with volunteering. You can use your existing skills, learn new ones, or pursue your interests through a wide variety of opportunities.

At this stage of life, volunteering can give you a new sense of purpose in the absence of a work routine. Volunteering can be well catered to those who have niche interests, too.

When considering volunteering, think about what motivates you and what your skills, interests and abilities are. Once you get going, you’ll likely reap benefits like reduced stress and anxiety, increased social opportunities and, depending on your role, increased fitness.

Charities like Age UK have information online at www.ageuk.org.uk/volunteering to help you get started. Their opportunities can be delivered from home like their Telephone Friendship Service or in your local community supporting one of their services or helping out in a charity shop.

Some other popular volunteering opportunities include:

  • animal shelters
  • libraries
  • community theatres
  • wildlife centres
  • charity shops
  • homeless shelters
  • national parks
  • community gardens
  • sports teams
  • youth centres
  • after-school clubs
  • places of worship
  • restoration projects.

Plan budget-friendly activities

The cost of living can make you think twice about the activities and hobbies you spend money on, especially if you’re on a tight budget.

Regular home activities like watching television, listening to music or the radio, reading, gardening, doing puzzles and home DIY are great activities to help save money. But there are plenty of low or no-cost options to keep your wellbeing boosted and social life thriving as well. Think about:

  • dancing (classes or free online)
  • walking groups
  • yoga (classes or free online)
  • local interest groups
  • lunch clubs and coffee mornings (like those run by Age UK)
  • men in sheds, a UK network of woodworking workshops by the Men’s Sheds Association
  • quizzes
  • photography
  • arts and crafts.

Read more of our lifestyle guides for over 50s.

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