Did you know that engaging in a hobby or participating in creative arts could prevent health problems, improve memory and even stave off dementia? According to the National Institute on Aging, engaging in activities such as art classes, gardening or other social retirement hobbies can help support healthy aging and a longer lifespan.
Now that you're retired, you might have more time to take up a new hobby. To help you get started, here are six hands-on hobbies for a productive retirement that might be a good fit for you.
1. Start Gardening
Gardening can enhance memory retention, decrease depression, stress and anxiety, and increase creativity and life satisfaction, according to a study by researchers at Texas A&M University. You can start with your own yard or get hands-on experience by volunteering to help tend local parks, gardens, nature sanctuaries or arboretums.
Consider taking a local gardening course, which may cover topics like ornamental trees, perennials and annuals, vegetable gardening, and plant and soil nutrition.
2. Share Your Vision Through Art
Are you a visual person? Painting, photography or drawing may be a good fit for your talents and interests. For example, if you love the outdoors, try landscape painting or nature photography. You can also take a local art class or try your hand at online painting or drawing courses. If you're drawn to photography, improve your skills and learn new techniques with an online smartphone photography course.
3. Master New Cooking Skills
Whether you're new to the kitchen or a gourmet cook, it's easy and fun to improve your skills by taking a cooking class or joining a group that does hands-on practice at members' homes. You can even sign up for classes through an online cooking school.
4. Learn How to Knit or Crochet
There's nothing like the clickety-clack of knitting and crochet needles to fuel lively conversation among a group of crafts-loving friends. Check with crafts stores to find a local knitting or crochet group where you can pick up yarn and technique tips from fellow crafters and make new friends. You can even learn to knit or crochet online.
5. Try Your Hand at Woodworking
Even a woodworking novice can build a birdhouse in an afternoon with a cedar board and a few tools, according to home improvement guru Bob Vila. To make the most of your houses, learn about bird species' habits so you can attract specific kinds of birds.
Once you've mastered the basic birdhouse, you can craft more advanced birdhouses or move on to other woodworking projects. It's easy to get started — just do an online search for ideas and instruction.
6. Develop Your Writing Skills
If you've never had time to write that novel, poem or memoir in your head, why not join an in-person or online writing group? You can meet like-minded people and practice your art. You can also learn online by taking part in instructional courses or watching videos that share writing tips and best practices.
These are just a few ideas for where to start when it comes to retirement hobbies. Take a class, read a book, join a group or learn on your own — it's up to you! Your health, mind and body will thank you, and so will the friends you gift with hand-knitted sweaters or framed artwork.