There are few groups of people who benefit more from a little time outside than older adults. Providing a boost in essential sun-giving vitamins, purifying fresh air and gentle stimulation to the muscles and joints, outdoor activities are wonderful for senior citizens.
The best part is, you can spend your time outside doing something that calms you down and inspires you, whether on your own or with a companion. Here are some of the best outdoor hobbies for seniors.
We’re not suggesting that you head out onto the choppy, open sea and reel in a hundred-pounder (unless you’re into that, of course), but you might consider getting into a gentler form of fishing, such as fly fishing or estuary angling. You’ll soak up the fresh air and stunning vistas, and you may even bring home dinner!
Rockhounding is just a fancy word for “rock collecting,” but boy is it a blast! Collecting semi-precious gems, minerals, petrified wood, fossils and other earthen treasures, there’s never a dull moment for the dedicated rockhound. It requires no fancy equipment (except for maybe an identification handbook) and no experience whatsoever. Bonus points for the fact that you can even do it in your own backyard!
If you’ve always been inspired by birds, it’s never too late to get into birding. This hobby is perfect for those who love to amble through the wilderness at their own pace or as part of a group, especially those who adore wildlife. Like rockhounding, birding is all about seeking out the rare and elusive, and every day brings an exciting new sighting to document.
Your local parks department, nature center or zoo most likely operates with the help of volunteers like yourself. Older adults who are retired are ideal candidates for these roles, and the work is mutually beneficial. You get to spend some time outside or with animals and the organization gets free labor—it’s a win-win for everyone!
As older adults, we’re constantly seeking beneficial exercises that help strengthen muscles and boost the heart rate without damage to the ever-fragile bones or joints. Swimming is one of the very best exercises that ticks all of those boxes, so it’s absolutely ideal for seniors. Coupled with the benefits of fresh air and sunlight, swimming outside is arguably the most valuable way to get your aquatic exercise.
Have you ever been on a hike with someone who seems to know everything there is to know about botany, reeling off the names of trees, weeds, shrubs and wild mushrooms? Those who specialize in plant identification can meander through the forest, field or garden calling off all sorts of species, and it’s a joy for everyone along for the hike!
It’s like a treasure hunt, but instead of hunting for precious gems or metals, you’re hunting for fungus. But this isn’t just any fungus, it’s the prized morel—a delicious mushroom that can fetch you up to $20 a pound, depending on where you live. Morel-hunting is popular throughout the Eastern United States from April through June.
Everyone loves the occasional boat ride, so you’ll be the most popular person in your social circle the minute you buy a boat. Captaining your own vessel lets you lap up the beautiful views, gentle movement and pure relaxation of boating on a lake or the open ocean. Call it hydrotherapy!
Hiking for seniors doesn’t have to mean several-mile treks, heavy backpacks and steep elevations. In fact, there are many relaxed yet naturally enchanting places where you can enjoy nature without so much as breaking a sweat. Look for flat trails and those marked as “easy” if you want a gentler hiking experience. Take along a walking stick to make it a little easier also. I have recommended some lightweight backpacks for seniors that you can read in this guide.
Requiring patience, technical skill and an eye for natural beauty, older adults make ideal nature photographers. It doesn’t matter where you live, there will undoubtedly be some photographic opportunity to help you hone your skills. The best part is, these days even the best simple cameras don’t cost an arm and a leg, so you can get great results without sinking in a ton of money. Plus, getting out an taking photos is a great low impact way for seniors to connect with nature.
Gardening is arguably one of the most rewarding outdoor hobbies out there for those who love to nurture. Plus, even though it seems like a totally solitary hobby—and it can be, if that’s what you prefer—most cities and towns have active gardening clubs, which adds a wonderful, social element, if desired. There are many senior-friendly garden tools to make the job less work.
Go to any busy public park in the morning and you’ll likely see groups of seniors practicing tai chi. This popular Chinese martial art offers a relatively easy, slow option for getting your blood flowing and your heart rate pumping. It’s typically practiced in groups outdoors, so check with your local parks department or Chinese community center for more information.
Follow Your Interests, Trust Your Body
If you’re a senior citizen in search of a new hobby that will keep you busy and entertained in your twilight years, focus first on the things that have always interested you. Whether it’s senior-friendly competitive sports, treasure hunting or simply silently absorbing the vast, unbelievable beauty of the natural world, there’s a hobby out there that will inspire and awe at any age. Follow what interests you and listen to your body and you’ll be well on your way to a rewarding, new pastime that keeps your body moving and your mind occupied.
What outdoor hobbies for seniors have you discovered? What activities do you enjoy doing ourdoors? Tell me about it in the comments below!