Best hobbies for the over 50s
Have you been keen to try some new hobbies but can’t find the time?
Well, many people over 50 choose to make time, not simply for the pleasure of trying something new, but for the benefit of their mental health and wellbeing. It’s a brilliant way to make new friends, de-stress and have fun – after all, 50 is the new 40!
Since the pandemic, many people have experienced a shift in priorities, especially regarding their work/life balance. Wanting to protect their mental health or simply to improve their wellbeing, many people have chosen to take early retirement, and those just over 50 have decided to continue newfound hobbies they discovered a passion for while in lockdown.
Whenever you choose to retire, the traditional golden handshake and the gifted carriage clock have long since been carried into the history books, thankfully, along with the misconception that retirement means taking it easy in your armchair and slippers.
Nowadays, retirement can often begin in your fifties and guess what? It’s no holds barred enjoyment from cruising and kayaking to dancing and dominoes, not to mention the more extreme pastimes for the adventurous.
While that may not be the case for everyone, there are plenty of great opportunities to try a new hobby, perhaps something you’ve always wanted to do or explore ideas you never knew existed.
How about trying paragliding, surfing or rollerskating? Or, for those ready to live life in the fast lane, there’s even extreme ironing (yes, it’s a thing) and barefoot skiing!
Whether you’re a wannabe’ Indiana Jones’ or more of an ‘armchair explorer’, we have compiled a list of the Best hobbies for over 50’s with something for everyone.
But first, let’s take a quick look at the benefits.
- Relieve stress and overall wellbeing
- Improve mental health and cognitive ability
- Enhance mental health
- Build your self-confidence
- Make friends.
- Share your skills with others
- Find a new passion
- Hone your current skills
- Create new social connections
- Bring in additional income
From helping to reduce depression to boosting dopamine in the reward system, researchers review how taking up a hobby can positively affect your mental health. But a less obvious recommendation is to ensure you’re still finding time to do the things you enjoy. In fact, research shows that having a hobby is linked to lower levels of depression – and may even prevent depression for some.
Alongside pleasure and motivation, hobbies can also bring other benefits. Physical hobbies can improve your fitness, and others can even enhance your brain function. Research suggests that some pursuits, like playing a musical instrument, can improve your memory, while artistic hobbies, such as reading, board games and puzzles, are reported to prevent dementia later in life.
Best hobbies for the over 50s
Grow your own food
One of the most relaxing pastimes, gardening, is fruitful in more ways than one. A naturally slow process that simply can’t be hurried encourages you to take your time and be at one with nature. It provides a calming effect and a way to connect with nature while working with your hands: It’s beneficial for both mind and body. And don’t be put off by managing a large space; gardening can be done on any scale, from a windowsill filled with kitchen herbs to a backyard vegetable plot; it’s ideal for busy lives and smaller budgets.
A great hobby for those who love walking and love a little treasure hunting!
For those detailed oriented; Geocaching uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver or mobile device and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches” or “caches”, at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world.
A typical cache is a small waterproof container containing a logbook and a pen or pencil. The geocacher signs the log with their code name and date to prove that they found the cache. After signing the log, the cache must be put back exactly where the person found it. Larger containers such as plastic food containers can also contain items for trading, such as small toys or trinkets.
Another great way to enjoy the outdoors, foraging, whereby you source wild food for free, is ideal for those interested in their local flora and fauna while learning about which foods are edible, medicinal and restorative for our mental health and wellbeing.
It’s advisable to go with an experienced and knowledgeable guide for your first few foraging expeditions to make sure what you’re picking is safe and not poisonous. Choose from a menu of wild berries, mushrooms, plants and roots to cook or eat raw. There is likely to be a specialist in your area, and they usually offer small group or 1-2-1 walks. You can also find a range of apps on your phone to help you identify wild foods, and there are also some great pocketbooks you can take with you on your travels.
Nordic walking is a specific pole walking technique that harnesses the upper body’s power to turn walking into a workout. It can be adapted for anybody and done anywhere, and you’ve likely seen a group pass you in your local community. There are many Nordic walking groups for all activity levels, from beginners to more experienced walkers. It’s a great activity to meet friends, get the exercise you want and develop your fitness.
Private pilot license
For those keen to reach the heights of adventurous hobbies, getting your private pilot’s license is easier than you think. As a private pilot, you can fly virtually any aircraft, operate in visual flight rules (VFR) conditions, and add additional ratings such as the multiengine or instrument ratings. And a bonus is that you don’t need hundreds of flight hours to complete your training. In fact, it could take you only a few weeks to get the license.
If you’re a keen learner and like a challenge, this is the perfect hobby for you. Plus, you’ll be able to fly off on your travels whenever you want.
If you’re a dog lover, this is a great way to help others while indulging your passion for pups. Many people work during the day or are reluctant to put their adored pooch in kennels when they want to holiday, so you could turn your affection for dogs into a useful hobby of dog sitting.
How it works is up to you, you can simply walk a doggy each day or offer to pet-sit in the owner’s home while they are on holiday. Alternatively, you can set up a holiday home at your house to accommodate the dogs, which may be more convenient for you. However you set up, remember it’s a hobby, so it should be fun, relaxing and work for you.
If you’re a budding bartender or mixologist, you can sharpen your skills with a local class or online tutorials. Plus, there are loads of great books, online groups and events you can attend to learn more about mixing your favourite tipples. This is an ideal way to meet like-minded friends and share your ideas and experiments. Serve up delicious drinks to yourself or your friends, and maybe even show some bartending tricks you’ve picked up along the way.
Gaming and Virtual Reality
You’re never too old to start playing video games, choose from favourites such as Candy Crush, Minecraft, Wordscapes or Flight Simulator Extreme; you can get your armchair kicks however you want. It keeps your mind active and stimulates your senses by developing quick reflexes and response times.
You can even try Virtual Reality or VR, as it has become increasingly popular with people of all ages. Virtual Reality is changing the landscape of the at-home gaming experience as you can travel, experience new activities and transcend worlds all from the comfort of your own home.
Try to beat a world record
How do you think so many people break world records? They often start as hobbies and become a little more competitive to become the best. You could do the same.Do you have an interesting or odd skill? Like limbo dancing or walking like a crab? Perhaps you have a hobby for collecting things? Anything from buttons or insects to trading cards and Barbie dolls. Or maybe you could make the world’s biggest cake? Roundest rubber band ball or longest domino run?
Every hobby can be transformed into a record-breaking success with dedication and imagination. If you have any interesting or weird skills, check online to see if other people have done them and how well they did, then try to beat the record yourself.
Finally, for those who are looking for something completely different and crazily challenging.
It really is a thing: Extreme ironing is an extreme sport in which people take ironing boards to remote locations and iron items of clothing. According to the Extreme Ironing Bureau, extreme ironing is “the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt”. Crazy but true!
Any new hobby you choose to try can significantly improve your mental health and wellbeing, whether you’re over 50 or older. The sooner you make time for hobbies in your life, the sooner you will experience the positive effects on your physical and psychological wellbeing that are widely documented.
If you feel like something is missing in your life, you want to meet new people, make new friends, or you think your mental health declining, it would be worth considering some new hobbies. All that matters is what interests you and what you find therapeutic for your mind and body.