a retired man painting a landscape in front of a city skyline

How to Stay Active During Retirement

Retirement—we dream about it for years. There's unlimited free time to do all of the fun stuff we’ve been putting off. But when it comes down to living in retirement every day, it can be hard to fill all that time and stay busy. It’s easier to sit on the couch all day than it is to go out and do something new.

Don’t spend all of your time watching TV, twiddling your thumbs, or overwatering your plants. Staying busy is one of the best ways to enjoy retirement—especially once the novelty has worn off.

Indulge Your Wanderlust

Is adventure calling your name? Step out of your comfort zone, and do something entirely new away from home.

  • Volunteer Abroad
    Why just travel when you can do some good at the same time? Groups like the Peace Corps and Doctors Without Borders can give you the opportunity to travel while giving back.
  • Hit the Road
    No need to take a plane—with a car or RV, you can see the country up close. Take an established route or set yourself a direction and see what you can find. Pull over for anything that interests you. The best part about road trips can be the unplanned adventures.
  • Live Like a Sailor
    If you are a fan of naval history or have always dreamed of the open ocean, look into volunteering on a tall ship. You could be part of the crew to raise and lower sails, propelling your ship across the sea.

Inspire Your Artistic Side

Do you love a good opera aria? Is the Cooking Channel your favorite thing on TV? Tap into the arts scene in your town from the kitchen to the stage.

  • Become a Volunteer Usher
    Never miss a show again. Help at your local theatre as an usher, and get into shows for free. Watch or listen to the show when you aren’t handing out programs or directing patrons to the nearest restroom.
  • Take a Cooking Class
    Whether you love to cook or just love to eat, a cooking class will teach you the tricks the pros use. Take one-time classes or ongoing course series, and you’ll always know what to make for dinner.
  • Perfect Your Pitch
    Retirement is a great time to brush off those musical skills. Your local community college and community center are both great resources. Join a choir, enroll in vocal lessons, or try a classical guitar class. When you feel ready, stop in and jam out at the open band night.

Invigorate Your Brain

Is challenging your brain a favorite pastime? You may have stopped working, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop learning.

  • Earn an Associate of Arts Degree
    Pick up a class catalog for your local community college. Do any of the offered subjects spark your interest? Starting on the track to an A.A. degree gives you a guided program to follow.
  • Learn to Knit
    Knitting is a classic hobby for a reason. It keeps your hands busy while it occupies your brains with patterns, rows, and stitches. Plus, you get a brand new item of clothing when you’re done. Homemade crafts also make great gifts!
  • Join a Club and Make New Friends
    It’s easy to get stuck in the same habits we’ve always had. Branch out of your social circle, and you’ll soon have new friends from all walks of life. Book clubs, social groups, travel groups—the opportunities are endless.

Instigate Some Fun with Family

When work takes over our lives, our family relationships can suffer. Now’s your chance to make up for that missing time and allow family to take priority.

  • Have Dates With Your Grandkids
    Go out with the grandkids without their parents. Take them out, and treat them to a day or night out.
  • Organize Family Vacations
    Now you’re the one with free time. Take advantage of it, and plan your family’s time off so that you can spend it all together.
  • Attend Celebrations
    It’s not easy to get to every single wedding and graduation when you’re working. Now you can! RSVP yes to every invite you get, and be ready for a rockin’ good time.

Your retirement years are the time to do what you want to do. Don’t let yourself get bored or stuck on the couch. Jump in, try something new, and enjoy!

Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.

Last Updated: September 12, 2017