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a group of active seniors

7 ways to get active in retirement

An active retirement is important for mental health and physical wellbeing.
We’re always so busy when we are young. We have to work, have a social life to maintain and sometimes we just crave time to ourselves.  But once you retire, you may be clueless as to what to do with all your free time.  Work was the reason you got up in the morning – in retirement you need a new outlook. The following 7 ways to get active in retirement might help with the transition.

Active retirement definition -
"engaging in meaningful activities that enhance a senior's quality of life"

1. Find a hobby or cause

According to my dictionary a hobby is “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure” and retirement is great time to pursue one.

You may have had a hobby when you were younger but work or family commitments kept you them from them.  But now you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want to try one you liked – dancing perhaps, but never had enough time to put on your dance shoes. Now’s your chance (your last chance?) to get back on the proverbial horse and pursue the hobbies you didn’t have time to do years ago

Or maybe you’ve always cared deeply about a particular cause?  Maybe you are passionate about the environment, art, politics or human rights.  Retirement is an opportunity for activism and the internet is a great platform for expressing your views.

2. Develop a schedule

If you were a list person at work, don’t throw off that discipline in retirement.  Get up early, get dressed and plan your day.  Keep a diary (Google is a good option), fill it with activities, have a positive approach to life.  And enjoy those periods when the diary is blank – sit and watch the birds feed, listen to music, read a good book – but treasure the leisure.   

If you were a list person at work, don’t throw off that discipline in retirement.  Get up early, get dressed and plan your day.  Keep a diary (Google is a good option), fill it with activities, have a positive approach to life. 

My wife and I have separate Google calendars, so we can see where we are each day and avoid double booking ourselves.  Not perfect, but better (in my view) than paper.

Google Calendar Example

My Google Calendar

And of course enjoy those periods when the diary is blank – sit and watch the birds feed, listen to music, read a good book – but treasure the leisure.  

3. Volunteer

This is one of the routes that many retirees end up taking as they find it rewarding.  Just think about what you’d like to do and which organizations you’d like to work with.  There are so many ways you could offer your time. You could help out in hospitals, libraries or foodbanks.  You could mentor kids, assist a volunteer group in your area, or put in some hours at a local charity shop – there are many on the high street!

The opportunities are endless.  There are always people who need an extra pair of hands. The best part of volunteering is that you get to give back to the community in ways that are beneficial to you as well as those you’re assisting.   Some retirees find what they miss is a sense of contributing to the success of others. There are very few things that give you the feeling you get when you help another human being.  No matter where you are there are always people who need your help. Even if you don’t believe it the world still needs you – all you need to do is find out where this is

4. Take up a sport

Take part in sports and keep fit.  A lot of folks didn’t get the chance to practice a sport during the years they spent working.  Sometimes they feel inept trying to learn something that others have perfected over time. This shouldn’t be a hindrance from taking up a sport.  Those who have taken part in them at a later stage have experienced all the benefits that come with it.  Some of these activities include tennis boating biking and fishing – many retirees tend to take up golf.  It’s a great way to get in some exercise while connecting with friends and family.  You could walk around the course or rent a cart if movement is a hassle.  It’s also a low impact sport but very fun and competitive at the same time. 

Keeping fit can make your retirement life better. You’ll be healthier, more energetic and have a much better mindset.  Aside from these sports you could join a fitness class. Yoga is said to be an ideal form of exercise for seniors since there aren’t any movements that would likely lead to injury. Pilates is also a great choice as it makes you more flexible.  You could always take a class with an instructor if you’re a beginner to make sure you are using proper form and alignment.  The NHS also recommends weight training as it improves balance, relieves arthritis, manages weight and diabetes, strengthens the heart and allows you a better and restful sleep. Swimming is a great activity for seniors because it is low impact and is a low-injury-risk form of working out.  

As you get older, you’re prone to certain conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Exercising can really contribute longevity of life and make you feel better. Joining a gym is an option, or a walking club.  They are very social and good for your mental and physical health.

7 Ways To Get Active In Retirement
7 ways to get active in retirement

5. Get a part-time job or side hustle

You might be wondering why you left the workforce only to join it again.  One reason is you might need the extra cash but it’s also a great chance to start something new.   Getting a part-time job (something that’s less pressured than a full-time career) allows you to get out of the house for a while, interact with others and make a few bucks.  It also contributes to your income and pension.   

It’s possible to land a fun and fulfilling job at a great place where you could interact with so many people and make a little extra cash at the same time

You could work for yourself.  In retirement, a side hustle needs to be:

  • Inexpensive – don’t tie yourself into long contracts, enter into costly agreements or buy expensive equipment.  Pick an activity with low overhead – no rental, franchise or requirements for legal or financial advice. This is not going to be a second career – you need to be able to give it up when you want or need to
  • Scalable – it shouldn’t stop you from going on holiday.  Selling on Etsy for example, allows you to suspend activity for a short time. 
  • Low stress – don’t pick a niche that keeps you awake at night.  Avoid employing people, agree to provide a support package that requires constant monitoring or requires your nose to the grindstone for hours a day.  Choose something uncomplicated and SMART.
  • It’s very possible to set up a small business from home, using the internet and your time.  You’ll miss the social interaction which you will have to find elsewhere, but you will keep your mind active.
  • Fun – it’s supposed to be something you enjoy, that will make you some money. 
  • Limited liability – choose an activity that does not put your house at risk.

6. Learn new skills

Learning goes on throughout our lifetime and retirement is a great time to learn something new. Learning to play an instrument for example is wonderful. You don’t have to have a single musical bone in your body! The piano is a great place to start, or the guitar. Singing is also something you could get into.  You could take the time to learn a new language.  It’s never too late, and you’re never too old.   It’s especially beneficial for those who plan on traveling. It’s a fun activity that will keep your mind sharp.  A few words in any language goes a long way but the more you know the better the experience. Imagine using your French to order coffee at a cafe in France

7. Keep in touch with friends and family

You probably didn’t get the chance to spend much time with loved ones during your working years. Retirement is a great time to reach out to them and catch up. Friends help you to stay connected to the world and give you a greater sense of purpose.  It’s important to keep having these friendships.  According to AgeUK “Staying connected with friends and family … may help maintain thinking skills as we age.”

Retirement4U

Conclusion

Staying active in retirement will prolong your life, enhance your sense of wellbeing and give you a sense of purpose.  You only travel this way once – stay active!

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