Physical and mental wellbeing are key to a happy retirement. And they can start with something as simple as taking up a new hobby – or allowing yourself the time to indulge in an old one.
With National Allotments Week (7 to 13 August) just around the corner and the school holidays well underway, this summer could be the perfect time to take up something new. If you do, you won’t be alone.
A recent report by Saga looked into the favourite hobbies of the UK’s over-50s and the health and wellbeing benefits of each.
Keep reading to find out what came out on top, and to get some inspiration for this summer.
The most popular hobby among over-50s Brits is gardening, favoured by a massive 49%. It’s a great way to stay physically active and make the most of the great British summer.
The heat of July and August mean that regular watering is key and you’ll want to keep birdbaths and ponds topped up too. Once your summer flowering shrubs are finished blooming it’ll be time to prune and late into the month, you’ll want to dead-head annual bedding plants and perennials.
In your allotment, be sure to keep on top of feeding tomato plants and think about harvesting the carrots and beetroot you sowed in the spring. As the summer draws on, the time to harvest potatoes will come around quickly too.
These are all great jobs to involve your children or grandchildren in, helping them understand the process of nurturing and growing crops while giving them a great chance to expend some energy and get their hands dirty.
2. Walking (with or without a pet)
Walking is another great way to get out into nature and enjoy the countryside.
If you have a dog, you’ll no doubt be out for regular walks anyway, but hiking can be incredibly sociable. You might consider organising walks with friends or joining a local rambling club.
Playing and walking with pets was voted second in the Saga survey.
And there are other benefits to pet ownership beyond physical exercise. Their companionship can provide emotional support and help to maintain your mental wellbeing.
3. Outdoor activities
If you are on grandparent duty this summer, you’ll want to find ways to get and about, whether that’s playing in the park or visiting local attractions.
Outdoor activities might include walking and sightseeing but if you live close to Jane Smith HQ, you’ll have lots on your doorstep and a wide range of ways to keep yourself active and the grandkids entertained this summer.
From indoor skiing and snowboarding in Milton Keynes to the water sports and activities at Box End Park. You might try your hand at 10-pin bowling or visit the National Museum of Computing. For younger kids, there’s the soft-play centre Safari MK.
You don’t have to get directly involved in any of these activities to feel the benefit of getting out and staying active. And your grandchildren will have a blast too!
4. Overseas travelling
Having spent a long career earning money to fund your retirement, it’s only right that you’ll want to treat yourself. Travel can broaden your horizons, open your eyes to new ways of thinking and living, and be great fun.
It came fourth on Saga’s list of over-50s hobbies and later-life travel is becoming increasingly popular. The Guardian wrote recently about the rise in “grey gap years” – over 60s shunning the traditional cruise or self-catering holiday in favour of a backpacking or campervanning trip across Europe or Asia.
A recent survey from Bucket List Travels, though, suggests that the traditional choices still hold sway for many.
Among some of the amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences picked by Brits in their independent survey were:
Other experiences on the list include a visit to Angkor Wat, Chichen Itza, and to see China’s Terracotta Warriors.
5. Arts and crafts and DIY
Taking up a new hobby in retirement might give you the chance to indulge in a passion that you didn’t have time for during your working life.
If you have a passion for arts and crafts you might opt to join a group of like-minded individuals or take lessons. Painting and pottery workshops can be a great way to learn a different skill and make new friends. Equally, you might head out into the fresh air to paint in solitude – whatever works for you.
Staying actively engaged in a hobby is great for your mental wellbeing too.
You might have house improvements or renovations that you’ve been meaning to make but never had the time for. Retirement is a great time to get stuck into these projects, helping you to stay fit, active and in shape.