If you're a woman who is retired or nearing retirement, you're probably looking at a chunk of free time previously unavailable due to career demands. Retirement is the perfect time to pick up a new hobby, and you'll find no shortage of hobbies if you want to learn new things, socialize, maintain fitness or help others. But there are important health benefits to having hobbies, too.
Research shows that people who participate in hobbies have a lower risk of developing certain health problems, including dementia. Hobbies can also reduce stress, improve memory and help you feel happier overall. Plus, new interests and activities contribute to lifelong learning, another benefit to mental wellness.
Ready to explore hobbies for retired women? Here are six popular activities to get you started.
1. Hit the Streets with a Walking Group
Walking provides cardiovascular benefits that can lower your blood pressure and risk for heart disease, diabetes and other medical conditions. You'll also improve your mood when you walk, thanks to feel-good endorphins flooding your brain, visual stimulation and quality time to clear your head.
Search Meetup or ask local community centers or your neighborhood group on Facebook about walking groups. If you can't find a walking group, start one of your own with friends and neighbors or form your own through Meetup.
2. Join a Book Club
Looking for a social outlet that also expands your mind? Joining a book club offers opportunities to socialize and make new friends. Both reading and meeting new people broaden your knowledge about different cultures, life experiences, history and other avenues you've not yet explored. Ask about local book clubs on your Facebook or other neighborhood group or start your own book club by recruiting friends, neighbors and people from places you frequent.
3. Explore Your Creativity
When you worked full-time, you may not have had time to indulge in writing, art, music or other creative activities. But now that you're retired, why not try your hand at painting, drawing, writing, knitting, crocheting or other hobbies that tap into creativity and enhance lifelong learning? Search online for free classes. Check with local businesses and community centers about writing, art and other classes and groups that offer creative hobbies for retired women.
4. Play Pickleball
Pickleball is one of the most popular hobbies for retired women since the sport combines the health benefits of regular exercise with socializing. More than 60% of people who play pickleball regularly are 55 or older, according to the USA Pickleball Association. Pickleball, a racket sport using a plastic ball with slots, is played on a smaller court than tennis, so the sport requires less running.
To get started, search online for pickleball courts and businesses or fitness centers that offer pickleball lessons. You'll meet other people who want to play, make new friends and get an aerobic workout that's easier on your body than tennis.
5. Learn About Your Ancestors
Want to be the family historian? Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies for retired women and the second most popular hobby in America, according to Ancestry.com. Digging up documents like birth, marriage and death certificates, military records and photos of ancestors offers insight into the family history that played a part in shaping who you are today. Researching your ancestors is easier than ever. To get started, sign up for subscriptions to services such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and Findmypast.com.
Love animals? Want to help seniors? Maybe you'd make a great tutor. You could walk shelter dogs, care for rescue cats or help rehabilitate injured wildlife at a local nature center. Maybe you can deliver food through Meals on Wheels or become a mentor to a small business owner in your former career field. To begin, search online for "volunteer opportunities" and your city name or call local organizations you care about.
Now that you know about some of the most popular hobbies for retired women, it's time to find one that speaks to you. You can get started with this list, but why stop there? Think about activities you enjoy — exercise, animal care, artistic endeavors or helping others, for example — and brainstorm your own list of ideas. Then choose a hobby or two to bring new interests to your life and improve physical and mental health.