7 Retirement Activities That Will Keep You Busy and Engaged

Discover your passion and make the most of your golden years!

In planning retirement, you may not realize how much time there is to fill until you find yourself needing to fill it. "Our jobs give us a psychological workout that keeps us mentally fit—even when it sometimes feels like it's driving us crazy!" David Ludden Ph.D., writes in his article published in Psychology Today. "When we retire, then, we run the risk of losing opportunities to challenge ourselves mentally and to keep ourselves cognitively fit," he adds. Staying active is essential for your mental and physical health, but you may not realize that some activities will give you a bigger boost than others. Here are seven retirement activities that will keep you busy and engaged. 

1
Volunteer

people volunteering at a park
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Volunteering is rewarding at any age, but studies have found that retired people benefit from it physically and mentally. One 2013 study found that older people who participated in volunteering had a lower risk of hypertension, physical disability, cognitive decline, and dying of any cause.

2
Be a Mentor

mentor helping a child paint
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Several studies suggest older people might particularly benefit from mentoring or foster grandparent programs. Helping young people with problem-solving, academic work and professional development may help keep volunteers' brains young as well. 

3
Join An Exercise Community

Seniors do Qi Gong or Tai Chi exercise in a wellness course in nature
Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

Regular exercise is crucial for good health in retirement, but staying motivated can be difficult. Joining or organizing a walking group, taking classes at the gym, or becoming part of a virtual community on apps like Strava or Noom can keep you accountable, motivated, and engaged. 

4
Garden

Senior African American couple spending time in their garden on a sunny day, planting flowers.
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Gardening is a creative activity that's ideal for retirement—it keeps your mind and body active, and it can be as simple or as involved as you like. According to a 2010 Australian study, gardening may lower the risk of dementia by as much as 36%, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers gardening moderate-intensity exercise (of which all of us should be doing 150 minutes a week). If you don't have a yard, joining a community garden provides the additional benefit of socializing with your fellow greenthumbs.

5
Learn An Instrument

Middle-aged rock guy
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Intellectually stimulating activities can make a real positive difference in your health and longevity. Not only is learning something new—like a language or how to play a musical instrument—fun and engaging, it can have brain boosting benefits and keep you mentally sharp. 

6
Travel

traveler with id and boarding pass at the airport
JBFX / Shutterstock

Now's the time to visit all the places you wanted to when work took precedence. Even if you don't have the funds for international journeying, there are affordable ways to see new places—like by car or RV. And many travel companies, including airlines and hotels, offer senior discounts, both through AARP and on their own. Travel groups that cater to seniors, such as Walking the World and Road Scholar, can help you find a good fit for your interests and budget.

 RELATED: 2 Alternatives That Are Just As Beneficial as Walking 10,000 Steps

7
Reconnect With Friends (or Make New Ones)

group of seniors sitting around a table telling old people jokes
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

You don't have to live in a retirement community to reap the social benefits of the post-work years. Without the constant distractions of work and kids, now's a good time to reconnect with old friends via social media or just by picking up the phone. Now that the pandemic has receded, physical reunions are once again a possibility. If your social circle could use some refreshing, sites like Meetup can help you find new clubs and activities near you, while apps like Amintro and Stitch are for people over 50 looking to make new friends. 

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is an experienced writer and editor in New York City. He specializes in helping people make life-improving decisions on their health, nutrition, finances, and lifestyle. Read more
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