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Making the most of your new free time is one of the first and biggest challenges retirees face after leaving the workforce. There’s more family time and maybe a few hours of part-time work each week, but a lot of that free time can be spent on a good hobby.

“Having hobbies in retirement is so important to occupying both your mind and your body,” says Craig Kirsner, president of retirement planning services at Stuart Estate Planning Wealth Advisors in Coconut Creek, Florida. “You’ve probably worked for decades and now you have to keep busy in retirement, too.”

These hobbies can keep you productive and fulfilled throughout your retirement years:

  • Pickleball.
  • Writing.
  • Stock market trading.
  • Gardening.
  • While walking.
  • Golf.
  • Volunteering.
  • Mentoring.

Pickleball

Pickleball is a game similar to tennis, but played on a much smaller court. “Pickleball is good for retirees because it’s most often played in large ‘open game’ sessions where partners and opponents are mixed and matched,” says Max Ade, co-founder of Pickleheads in Atlanta. Pickleball courts are free in many retirement communities, although you may need to reserve playing time. Lessons from a pickleball professional can be had for around $50 an hour.

Writing

Health and wellness professionals have long argued that recording your thoughts and telling your story is a valuable emotional release, with journaling earning particular praise from the mental health community. “Write your memoirs so your grandchildren and great-grandchildren know who you are and what your life was like,” says Elliott Katz, editor at Award Press in Toronto, Canada. “Write a book about the wisdom of life that you want to share with your children and great-grandchildren. If you’ve been successful in business, share the lessons you’ve learned. If you had a good marriage, share your success secrets.

Stock trading

If you have spare cash and want to use it wisely, learn how to invest wisely. “One of the best under-the-radar hobbies for retirees is learning to trade stocks,” says Kyle Janas, founder of Opinicus Holdings in Dallas. “Retirees have money invested in the stock market that they draw on to fund their lifestyles, and one way to put that money to work is to learn how to trade.”

Stock trading can improve your retirement in several ways. “Two of the main benefits of doing this business are keeping their minds sharp by learning a new skill and being in control of their finances,” says Janas.

Gardening

Gardening is another top recommendation for a great retirement hobby. “Gardening can be as simple as planting a few vegetables in your garden for investment or building a greenhouse for more extensive plant cultivation,” says Dan Gallagher, certified nutritionist at Aegle Nutrition in Carrollton, Texas. “I recommend growing vegetables and herbs for retirees, as it will help maintain a diet of fresh, varied, and nutrient-dense foods for continued health in retirement.”

While walking

Whether you walk, jog, bike or swim, sweating is one of the most beneficial hobbies any retiree can adopt. “Every retiree should have at least one exercise-based hobby,” says Caroline Grainger, certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer Online Personal Trainers in Houston. “Exercise can do a lot to keep you physically and mentally young, and help extend your quality years and reduce long-term hospital visits.”

Grainger is especially keen for retirees to walk, at least to start an exercise campaign. “Walking is a great choice for several reasons. It’s easy enough for anyone to start, even if they were out of shape during their working years. It offers great socializing opportunities, and in the right neighborhood, it can also allow you to get out and be socially engaged,” says Grainger. “It’s also something that provides real, measurable health benefits, even if you only walk 20 minutes a day.”

Golf

Any good hobby should give retirees a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and golf does this in many ways. “During our working years, purpose and fulfillment are largely provided by our jobs,” says Jason Siperstein, certified financial planner and president of Eliot Rose Wealth Management in West Warwick, Rhode Island. “Once we retire, we no longer have our routine or day-to-day social relationships, so we have to recreate them.”

This is where golf comes in. “Golf is (one) social, (two) measurable, (three) challenging and (four) routine,” says Siperstein. “That’s why golf is so great. It touches on all four lifestyle themes and keeps us connected while learning and growing as people, which doesn’t stop in retirement.”

Volunteering

Doing good by doing good has been a reliable and constant refrain of the nonprofit sector for decades. Volunteering is a worthy vocation for retirees who have the time to make a difference where their help is most needed. “One of the best hobbies for retirees is volunteering,” says Matthew Rowlings, founder of Time Value Millionaire, a Florida-based money and finance advice platform. “A good hobby keeps us socially and mentally active. If we can volunteer our time for something we are passionate about, it not only helps organizations with tight budgets, but also gives personal meaning to our lives.

Mentoring

Another hobby on the donation front is mentoring professionals, youth and students. “Retirees have experiences that most people in our society don’t have,” says Rowlings. “Therefore, they provide a unique perspective to teach and impart all the knowledge that you cannot necessarily find in a classroom.”

Make your hobby unique to you

Try to choose hobbies that meet your unique lifestyle needs. “For retirees, hobbies are wonderful because they give people a way to contribute to their community, make new friends, learn new skills, or just have a good time enjoying a highly valued experience,” says Ari Parker, Senior Medicare Licensed Counselor at Chapitre in Phoenix. “Hobbies can be a fulfilling way for many people across the country to spend time doing the things they love with the people they love.”

Parker advised many Americans approaching retirement on what to do with their lives. “The most important thing when it comes to hobbies is that you find something that appeals to your personality,” Parker says. “Some people may prefer educational hobbies, like learning a new language, while others may prefer taking a pottery class. Other people enjoy group activities like learning a new dance, like salsa, while others may prefer more cerebral activities, like attending a book club.