Lots of us find that we have much more time on our hands as we get older. Maybe we retire or choose to work part-time, and suddenly we have hours and hours to fill with whatever we want! It’s important for people of all ages to stay physically and socially active in order to avoid boredom or loneliness, and perhaps more importantly, to help reduce the risk of health problems. Picking up a new hobby or two is the answer. We have put together a list of our top 15 hobby ideas to give older people some inspiration.
Firstly, sport and fitness activities will help to keep older people healthy and energetic but will also improve their social life due to meeting others with the same interests as them.
Practical hobby ideas, such as cooking and gardening, can boost your self-esteem by giving you a sense of achievement and pride. Meanwhile, leisure hobbies like reading books and playing video games help to keep the brain active, therefore reducing the risk of dementia. Of course, all of these hobby ideas are also a whole lot of fun!
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s especially important for older people to stay physically active. According to the NHS, most adults aged 65 and older spend, on average, 10 hours or more each day sitting or laying down. This means that this age category is most at risk of obesity, heart disease and an earlier death compared to the general population. The first of our hobby ideas is a great way to combat these risks!
There are plenty of different sports which will help you stay active, no matter your current fitness level or experience. Sports can also be a great social activity, bringing you closer to the people you know and helping you meet new friends too.
Here are some of the most popular sports for older people. Click on a sport to read more about it.
Not only is sport great for our physical wellbeing, but it is also great for our mental health. Of course, more than anything else, sport is fun. It gives people something to look forward to each week, whether they’re a member of a club/team or if they’re just having a social game with their friends.
Sports might not be your cup of tea, but that’s alright. There are plenty of other ways to exercise, meet new people and look after your health. Here are some fantastic fitness hobby ideas:
Nordic Walking is great for your health and your social life. Nordic Walking is a full-body exercise which was originally a summer training regime for cross-country skiers. According to the NHS, Nordic Walking is:
A full-body exercise that’s easy on the joints and suitable for all ages and fitness levels. It’s based on using specially designed walking poles in a way that harnesses the power of the upper body to propel you forward as you walk.”
There are different classes available, including gentle walks for those with health concerns to workout walks for those who are looking to improve their fitness, lose weight, or tone their body. By using Nordic poles, you are taking the weight off your knees and lower body joints. Nordic Walking can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and asthma. Nordic walking groups will also introduce you to new people. This can help improve your social life and combat loneliness. If you’re interested in Nordic walking, you can find a local instructor on the Nordic Walking UK website.
If you’re considering taking part in a sporting or fitness activity, it’s important to know your body’s limits. Before starting any new exercise regime, you should speak to your GP, especially if you have issues with your muscles, joints or bones.
Gardening has plenty of benefits for older people. Once you get the hang of it, gardening can become rather addictive! The satisfaction of planting a seed and watching it grow is hard to beat. Keen gardeners will want to fill their gardens (and their windowsills!) with the most beautiful flowers and plants, cut the lawn into a nice, neat design and maybe even grow some fruits and vegetables.
Here are just a few of the mental and physical benefits of getting out into the garden:
- Reducing stress levels.
- Sense of achievement.
- Getting out into the fresh air.
- Helping to keep fit and active.
- Keeping older people busy.
- Can provide nutritious, healthy food.
Getting up and about and keeping active rather than sitting down all day is great for our health. In fact, a 2015 study found that just two 50-minute sessions of potting plants and watering flowers dramatically improve stamina, dexterity and brain function. Furthermore, after seven weeks, the participants of the study all lost weight, particularly around their waists, which is one of the most dangerous parts of the body to store fat. Altogether, gardening is one of the most popular hobby ideas for older people and it isn’t hard to see why!
One of the most interesting stories to make the news recently is the rise of the silver gamer. That’s right, more over-55s are playing video games now than ever before.
In 2014, The Telegraph reported that one in four people over 55 had a games console in their home. What’s more, the majority of these older people did not have children living at home. It’s not just games consoles either. The elderly are embracing technology like tablets and smartphones to play online version of classics such as Scrabble.
Gaming provides great entertainment and, like most of our hobby ideas, gives you a chance to socialise. Most games give you the option to play against your friends, either online or side-by-side. Playing computer games gives the brain a healthy challenge too. A 2015 study suggested that 3D computer games can help prevent memory loss.
Our favourite games include:
- Bejewelled – Players form horizontal or vertical chains of three or more gems of the same colour. You do this by swapping gems around the screen.
- Wii Sports – Available on the Nintendo Wii, this game uses motion-capture technology. Hold the controller and play the sport as you would in real life: swing a golf club, throw a punch in the boxing ring, or bowl a strike!
- Brain Training – These games will challenge the mind and get you thinking. Players will answer questions and solve tricky riddles and puzzles.
- Age of Empires – This is one of the biggest strategy game franchises in the world. Games focus on historical periods like the Stone Age and Iron Age.
- Super Mario – One of the most well-known computer games of all time. This game will provide hours of entertainment and plenty of puzzle-solving.
Social media has taken the world by storm. It’s especially popular among the younger generation, but older people are diving in too. This phenomenon has also become one of the most popular activities on our list of hobby ideas. According to Ofcom, 58% of people aged 55-64 have a social media profile in 2020. For the over-65s, that figure is 39%. If you haven’t yet joined the social media revolution, give it some thought. Since the coronavirus pandemic began, millions of us across the UK have depended on social media to stay in touch with loved ones near and far.
Popular social platforms such as Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp are great for older people – especially those who live alone or far away from family. Plenty of younger people now choose to move away from their childhood hometown, whether it’s to go to university or for work purposes. This means that the older generations can sometimes get left behind, making it difficult for them to see their family regularly. In situations like this, social media steps in and allows people to re-connect with their family and friends, both nearby and around the world:
- Facebook – A platform for connecting and reconnecting with friends and pages. It allows people to send instant messages to loved ones, share photographs, videos, post statuses and much more.
- Zoom – The top live video-calling platform. It allows people to video chat with their loved ones all around the world. Enjoy one-on-one calls or catch up with the whole family in a group call.
- WhatsApp – Free instant messaging and telephone calls on mobile phones, without using voice minutes or texts.
- Twitter – Follow whoever you like and see the things you’re interested in. Share thoughts and opinions with the people who care, all in a tweet consisting of 280 characters or less!
- Instagram – A place to share photographs. Share pictures of what you care about with your followers, whether they’re friends, family or people with similar interests.
Out of all the elderly activities on this list, being a pro on social media is probably the one that will impress the grandchildren the most!
Cooking a meal from scratch can give you a great sense of achievement, along with a feeling of happiness as your loved ones tuck into the food that you’ve made.
Cooked meals can bring friends and family together. Sunday dinner is a British institution. Everybody likes to boast about their grandma’s Sunday dinner! But it’s not just the social benefits of cooking which are important. Cooking homemade food is also great for our health. We all know the importance of a healthy diet, but did you know that home cooking can help your mental health too?
If you’re not already a keen cook, there are a few simple ways you can get started. Try creating a simple meal plan, experiment with healthy recipes and learn about new foods from around the world. Rather than eating out, getting a takeaway or buying processed ready meals, whip up your own healthy dishes at home. If you or somebody you live with is a keen gardener, why not use some home-grown produce in your cooking? This might be one of the most practical hobby ideas on our list – after all, everybody needs to eat! Cooking your own food can save you money, make you healthier, and give you a big self-esteem boost.
Go into the kitchen and create some healthy, tasty masterpieces! For recipe ideas, why not check out the BBC Good Food website?
There are plenty of hobby ideas for older people to choose from, but one of the most enjoyable and stimulating is a good old-fashioned jigsaw puzzle. There are so many different types of puzzle to choose from, including actual photographs, cartoons, paintings and other backgrounds.
Puzzles are available in a huge range of sizes and difficulty levels, from 24 pieces to a super-challenging 5000 pieces. The best thing about puzzles is that they don’t need to be finished in one go – stop and come back to them whenever it suits you. This potentially can create days, even weeks of fun.
Well-known puzzling brands include:
- Ravensburger – Ravensburger creates fun puzzles for the children, and serious, challenging puzzles for the adults. 3D puzzles are also available from this brand.
- Jan Van Haasteren – These puzzles are all about the fun, chaotic scenes that have been designed by Jan Van Haasteren. Little hidden features appear throughout the range.
- Wasgij – Something a little different. In these puzzles, you must create an alternative scene based on the clue given on the box. Wasjig is also jigsaw spelled backwards!!
3D puzzles provide a whole new challenge to this classic hobby. Rather than piecing together a flat photograph, you’ll build three-dimensional structures. Re-create some of the world’s most popular landmarks in puzzle form. Examples include the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Tower Bridge. Sporting examples include iconic football grounds and various F1 cars.
Any kind of puzzle will give your brain a brilliant workout, helping to maintain cognitive function and defy the ageing process. This is particularly important for older people, as studies suggest it can help delay or prevent the onset of dementia.
Who doesn’t love a good book? This might be the most traditional entry on our list of hobby ideas for older people. It doesn’t matter if you’re 65 or 25, a good book can provide days of entertainment.
There are so many different genres to choose from, which means that there will be something for everyone. Fiction fans only need to take a look at the current bestseller list for inspiration. For TV and sports fans, there are plenty of autobiographies. For those who like horror stories, there is the Stephen King collection.
This year’s bestselling novels (so far) include:
- The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
Of course, you don’t even need a physical copy of a book nowadays. Most titles are also available as E-Books, for use on devices such as the Kindle. Although most people like to have a physical book, E-Books can allow you to read easier and faster according to this study and they’ll take up considerably less space on your shelves!
Reading is one of our favourite hobby ideas because of its wide range of benefits. It can help to enhance memory, sharpen decision-making skills, reduce stress and help people to get to sleep much faster. Reading in bed is a common thing to do as it induces shut-eye much better than watching TV before bed.
Of all our hobby ideas, this is one that most of us consider at some point in our lives. How many people dreamed of being a rockstar when they were little? While you might not be selling out stadiums any time soon, music is such a wonderful hobby for people of all ages. There are plenty of instruments for you to choose from too, such as the guitar, drums, piano, saxophone or violin.
Teaching yourself a new skill provides a stimulating mental challenge, which is important in the battle against dementia. You’ll also develop your time management and organisational skills during the learning process, as you’ll have to get it your full attention if you’re going to progress and improve.
Your hand-eye coordination will also improve, as your brain will be working to covert the musical notes that you’re reading on the page into specific motor patterns, breathing techniques and rhythm in your hands.
It also goes without saying that playing a musical instrument is plenty of fun! You could end up making new friends by joining a band once you’re ready.
This might be one of the more unconventional hobby ideas on our list. Model building can become quite addictive, especially as you don’t even have to leave your home. Putting together some of your favourite cars or planes can help you to develop your dexterity, coordination, and patience. According to Model Space, you could also learn the following skills:
Model building can be a great stress-reliever. You can escape to your own little assembly area to concentrate solely on building your latest project, clearing your mind of any problems that you had previously.
Model building is also a great hobby to enjoy with your grandchildren. You can build your projects together, strengthening your relationship and teaching them the rewards of good teamwork.
Finally, the sense of achievement that you’ll have once your latest project is complete cannot be beaten. You can take a step back and appreciate the model that you have just built, before adding it to your collection – perhaps a model car shelf?
There are plenty of benefits to taking part in birdwatching. Not only do you get to travel around the country, and potentially the world, but you also get to see some of the most remarkable species on our planet.
Birdwatching combines the benefits of several of the hobby ideas we’ve shared: physical activity, learning something new, and spending time outdoors. Being outside is great for your mental health, as it generally improves your mood and provides you with a space to think. Birdwatching is a great opportunity to reflect or to just zone out and think calming thoughts. Not only that, but your body will also soak up vitamin D from the sun and breathe in the fresh air all day.
You’ll also benefit from an improvement in your reflexes and mental alertness. As a birdwatcher, you need to be ready to pounce with your binoculars or camera to capture that dream shot of the bird. A bird can be here and gone in the blink of an eye. Birdwatchers need their brains to operate on many different levels to make sure they can pick up on any clues that a bird might be nearby.
Often, you’ll be walking for miles, or even climbing and hiking up mountains, to find a certain type of bird. This provides a top-notch cardiovascular workout, which is good for your heart.
Looking after a pet can easily be seen as a hobby idea. Having a pet can provide you with a friendly companion and someone to focus your energy on each day. Having a dog, for example, is great if you’re living alone as it will combat any feelings of boredom or loneliness.
Pets provide you with a sense of responsibility. You know that you need to feed them, take them for walks, keep them clean, and protect them from any potential dangers around the home and the outside world. Lots of people, especially older people, find great fulfilment in caring for someone else. When children grow up and leave home, a pet can be a great idea to help fill an ’empty nest’.
According to scientific research, stroking a pet can reduce the level of stress-related hormones in the blood. What’s more, your furry friend will feel equally comforted too! Currently, there are animal shelters up and down the country, full of four-legged friends waiting to find loving homes. Adopting a pet is a truly good deed which offers so many benefits.
Why not take some time out from the daily grind to see the world? Going travelling could help to tick off so many items on your bucket list.
Maybe you’ll head over the States for a road trip along Route 66? Alternatively, go down under and visit the outback in Australia. After spending so much time indoors due to the pandemic, planning a trip abroad could be just the boost you need.
Loneliness is one of the biggest problems facing older people. Friends and family may move away and older people could face living alone. It’s important to stay in touch with friends and family – after all, loneliness can trigger health problems. However, it’s perfectly possible to live by yourself without being lonely.
Fortunately, there are many community groups out there, based on several different hobbies and interests. Some of the most common groups that can be found around the country include:
- Arts & Crafts for beginners.
- Board Game cafes and groups.
- Exercise classes such as yoga.
- Cooking classes for different levels of experience.
- Coffee mornings.
- Book groups.
- Sports clubs.
Joining a group like this can introduce you to other people who share your interests and live nearby. You can make new friends and fill your calendars with exciting activities and social events – perfect for maintaining a strong social network. You might even pick up some new hobby ideas from the people you meet.
Like the community groups we mentioned above, joining an adult learning course can also have great social benefits:
- Meeting new people who have the same interests.
- Sharing stories with new people.
- Sharing advice and tips throughout the educational course.
Learning new skills at a college or university keeps the brain healthy. Students constantly learn new things and put their minds to the test as they process new information. In fact, research by the Alzheimer’s Society showed that education delayed the onset of the disease, according to this report in The Guardian.
You could even kill two birds with one stone and take a class related to one of the hobby ideas we’ve already shared in this article. Courses in cooking, gardening, computers, and other hobbies are widely available in most towns and cities.
Much like cooking an amazing meal in the kitchen, learning a new skill and passing exams gives you an amazing sense of achievement. Keeping busy and active is vital in the fight against loneliness.
Visit a local college or university website to see what courses are available.
Stay Active, Stay Safe
Whilst having a hobby or two is great, lots of activities come with a few risks. A personal alarm is the ideal solution – giving you peace of mind in your new, active lifestyle. It can also give you a confidence boost with the knowledge that help will always be there in an emergency. Our life-saving alarms work inside the home and in the garden. We also offer a brand-new GPS-enabled alarm, for unbeatable peace of mind at home and on the go.
We hoped you enjoyed reading about our hobby ideas. Which hobbies do you take part in? Share your stories below!
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Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 9th November 2020 to reflect current information. Originally published September 2017.