Staying mentally and physically active is crucial as we age, and picking up a hobby is an excellent way to do it. But it’s not always as simple as continuing to do what we’ve always done. Maybe those activities don’t appeal to us anymore; maybe we’ve lost touch with them as work and families took over more of our time.
Just because you’re in your 60s doesn’t mean you can’t start fresh or rediscover the love for a hobby you used to enjoy. Let’s take a look at 15 hobbies you can take up to keep your mind and body sharp. You’ll also find the average cost of each activity and a list of gear you’ll need to get started.
Average cost to start: $300-$500 for a beginner set of clubs
Gear: Golf clubs, golf balls, golf bag, and appropriate attire
Golf offers both mental and physical benefits while providing opportunities for socializing and enjoying the outdoors. All that walking is good for your heart, too. On average, one round of golf requires about three to four-and-a-half miles of walking.
Average cost to start: $100-$200 for basic gardening tools and supplies
Gear: Gardening gloves, shovel, trowel, rake, and plants or seeds
Gardening is a low-impact physical activity that helps improve mental health and provides a sense of accomplishment. You can curate your own little piece of nature, which can help you feel more connected to the natural world, as well. The Royal College of Physicians notes that “exposure to plants and green space, and particularly to gardening, is beneficial to mental and physical health.” “Green therapy,” as it’s sometimes called, can reduce stress, fear and even blood pressure.
Average cost to start: $100-$300 for quality hiking shoes and clothing, though you can essentially do this activity for free if you already have comfortable shoes
Gear: Hiking shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, a water bottle, and a backpack for snacks and supplies
Much like gardening, hiking has numerous benefits beyond just getting you up and moving. It can help reduce stress and improve cardiovascular health. It’s a low-impact workout that also boosts your mood. And if you grab a friend or neighbor, you can even make some friends along the way.
Average cost to start: $500-$1,000 for basic tools and materials
Gear: Safety glasses, ear protection, woodworking tools, and lumber
Woodworking challenges you to exercise your problem-solving skills and creativity, and not just your muscles. It can reduce anxiety and stress while boosting your mood. Plus, it’s a great way to hone your fine motor skills, which can dull as we age.
Average cost to start: $300-$600 for a decent entry-level bicycle
Gear: Bicycle, helmet, bike lock, and appropriate clothing
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens muscles, and sharpens mental focus. You won’t need to worry about stress that other types of exercise could cause. You might even use it as a practical form of transportation, making the “exercise” component a fun bonus. Instead of sitting in a car or on a bus, you can cycle your way to your destination and improved health.
Average cost to start: $30-$100 for a decent chess set
Gear: Chess set
We all know that chess can improve your mental function, but did you know it also improves your memory and ability to view things from someone else’s perspective? It could even make you more creative and better able to plan ahead. One research review even suggested it could help protect against dementia.
Average cost to start: $60-$100 for a series of group classes, though prices can vary depending on where you live and how many classes you take
Gear: Comfortable dance shoes and clothing
Ballroom dancing doesn’t just look beautiful. It also has a lot of health benefits. You can protect your bone density. Unlike something like jogging, which involves a lot of hard impact, dancing will be easier on the bones. You may even find you’re more toned and flexible. Plus, you’ll need to work with a partner, something that is not just social, but also keeps you mentally sharp.
Average cost to start: $50-$150 for swimsuit, goggles, and pool membership
Gear: Swimsuit, goggles, and swim cap (optional)
Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that improves cardiovascular health, flexibility, and muscle strength. It gets your heart rate up without putting stress on your body. In fact, the water takes some of the stress off, which is great for those with certain joint issues or health conditions. Take a group class for the added social benefits.
Average cost to start: $300-$600 for a beginner DSLR camera
Gear: Camera, camera bag, and tripod (optional)
This might seem like a strange addition to the list, but photography carries a lot of health benefits. It encourages you to get outside and moving without you even noticing it. And the mental benefits are huge. It’s a great way to stimulate your brain and keep mentally sharp, while also finding new friends who are as enthusiastic about the hobby as you are.
Average cost to start: $50-$100 for a yoga mat and a series of classes
Gear: Yoga mat, comfortable clothing, and yoga block (optional)
Yoga is another activity that’s low impact, which is great when those aches and pains start sneaking in. Obviously, you’ll improve your flexibility through the practice, but you can also get stronger and ward off back pain. You might even find arthritis symptoms subsiding. On top of that, many yogis report better sleep, lower stress and happier moods.
Average cost to start: $100-$200 for basic painting supplies
Gear: Paints, brushes, canvas, and easel (optional)
Painting promotes creativity, cognitive function, and fine motor skills while providing a relaxing and enjoyable pastime. Like photography, the benefits can be sneaky. It can help with managing stress and strengthening your memory. Even if you think you have no creative skills, give it a try. You might be surprised.
Average cost to start: $20-$300 for a pair of binoculars, depending on how high-tech you want to get
Gear: Binoculars, field guide, and notebook
Combine this activity with hiking or photography for added benefits. According to the New York Times, merely being around bird song improved people’s mental well-being. And birds live just about everywhere, so no matter where you are, you can probably find an enthusiastic and welcoming group of birdwatchers eager to show you the ropes.
Average cost to start: $0
Gear: None, though some organizations may require specific attire or equipment
There’s few better ways to feel connected to your community than by volunteering. Find a cause you truly care about, whether that’s caring for animals at a shelter, helping out those less fortunate at a soup kitchen or cleaning up a local hiking trail. No matter what you pick, volunteering will get you up and moving doing something you can feel truly good about.
Playing a Musical Instrument
Average cost to start: $100-$500 for a beginner instrument (varies by instrument)
Gear: Musical instrument, sheet music, and music stand (optional)
Playing an instrument is a great way to keep your mind sharp and improve your mood. And few people play music alone, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a community of like-minded music lovers to bond with. You can even boost your reflexes.
Puzzles and brain games
Average cost to start: $20-$50 for various puzzle books or brain game apps
Gear: Puzzle books, Sudoku books, crossword puzzles, or a tablet/smartphone for brain game apps
Puzzles and brain games help combat cognitive decline by challenging your short-term memory and problem-solving skills. You also need to employ some visual-spatial reasoning to get through the challenge. Of course, the specifics will change depending on the type of game or puzzle you choose, but as long as it’s challenging you, you’re probably on the right track.
Stay Sharp as You Age
By engaging in one or more of these 15 hobbies, men in their 60s can maintain mental sharpness and stay physically active. Choose the activities that resonate with you. There’s no right or wrong answer here. In fact, the activities you engage in most enthusiastically and genuinely will likely have the biggest benefits. So get out there and try something new!