Top 15 Hobby Ideas for Older People

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Lots of us find that we have much more time on our hands as we get older. Many of us retire or choose to work part-time, and suddenly we have hours and hours to fill with whatever we want! It’s particularly important for older people to stay physically and socially active. This will not only help you avoid boredom and loneliness; it can also reduce your risk of developing several 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.

1. Sports

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 an average of 10 hours or more sitting or laying down every day. This puts over-65s at higher risk of obesity and heart disease than the rest of the 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, playing a sport is great fun! It gives you something to look forward to each week, whether you’re a member of a club or you’re just having a social game with friends.

2. Fitness Activities

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 for people of all fitness levels:

A CLOSER LOOK AT NORDIC WALKING

Nordic walking is great for your health and your social life. Nordic walking is a full-body exercise that 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. There are also 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 diseasetype 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.

Find out more about Nordic Walking.

3. Gardening

Gardening has plenty of benefits for older people. Once you get the hang of it, gardening can become rather addictive! It’s hard to beat the satisfaction of planting a seed and watching it grow. 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.
  • 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 can 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. Overall, it isn’t hard to see why gardening is one of the most popular hobby ideas for older people. If you’re a beginner, check out these tips from expert guest blogger Alexandra, founder of The Middle-Sized Garden blog and YouTube channel.

Read these five benefits of taking up gardening.

4. Gaming

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.

42% of Brits aged 55-64 have played video games in the last five years, according to a 2019 survey. For Brits aged 65+ that figure was an impressive 27%. It’s not just game consoles either. The Telegraph recently reported that one in four over-65s are now using their smartphones to play video games.

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. You can also choose to play against strangers online and chat with people from all around the world. 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.

5. Social Media

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 had a social media profile in 2020. For the over-65s, that figure is 39%.

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, Zoom, 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.

BEST SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS FOR OLDER PEOPLE

  • 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!

Read our guide to social media 

6. Cooking

Cooking a meal from scratch can give you a great sense of achievement.

Cooked meals can bring friends and family together. After all, everybody likes to boast about their grandma’s Sunday dinner. But it’s not just the social benefits of cooking that 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? Cooking for yourself can become a challenge as you get older – that’s why we’ve published some top kitchen safety tips.

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?

Find out more about the benefits of cooking.

7. Jigsaw Puzzles

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 can allow for days or even weeks of fun.

Well-known jigsaw puzzle 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. Wasgij 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. There are 3D puzzles for sports fans too, including iconic football grounds and various F1 cars.

Any kind of puzzle will give your brain a brilliant workout, helping to maintain cognitive function and support healthy ageing. This is particularly important for older people, as studies suggest it can help delay or prevent the onset of dementia.

Read more about jigsaw puzzles. 

8. Reading

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, Stephen King is hard to beat.

This year’s bestselling novels (so far) include:

  • Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
  • Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González
  • The Stranger in the Lifeboat by Mitch Albom

Of course, nowadays, you don’t even need a physical copy of a book. Most titles are also available as E-Books, which you can read on a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader. Although most people like to have a physical book, E-Books can allow you to read easier and faster according to this study. They’ll also 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 before bed is a great idea, as it induces shut-eye much better than watching TV late at night.

9. Learn to Play a Musical Instrument

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 famous musician 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 and cognitive decline. You’ll also develop your time management and organisational skills during the learning process, as you’ll have to give it your time and attention if you’re going to progress.

Your hand-eye coordination will also improve, as your brain will be working to convert the musical notes that you’re reading on the page into specific hand movements, breathing techniques, and rhythms.

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.

See our top five musical instruments for you to learn.

10. Model Building

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:

  • Researching.
  • Planning.
  • Cutting.
  • Drilling.
  • Sculpting.
  • Sanding.
  • Gluing.
  • Painting.
  • Detailing.
  • Photography.

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 day-to-day problems or worries.

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?

Learn more about the benefits of building models.

11. Birdwatching

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 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 catch a glimpse of the bird. A bird can appear and be gone in the blink of an eye. Birdwatchers need to stay sharp in order to 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 great for your heart and overall health.

Five benefits of taking up bird watching.

12. Pets

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 way 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.

Find out more about the benefits of owning a pet.

13. Travelling

Why not take some time out from the daily grind to see the world? Going travelling could help you tick off lots of goals 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.

Before you head anywhere, make sure that you’ve sorted out any insurance and vaccinations you need, and remember to keep your home secure whilst you’re away.

Read about the five locations we think you need to visit on your travels.

14. Community Groups

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.
  • Choirs.
  • Dancing.
  • 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. While the pandemic is ongoing, many of these community groups have moved online. Try searching for a Zoom-based book club or exercise class online.