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Planning Retirement Online

What to do in Retirement

Part 2

Keeping Fit

If we are going to enjoy our retirement to the full, we need to be fit both physically and mentally. If we are not fit, then our lifestyle will be impaired one way or another, and we therefore may not be able to do all those things that we want to do in retirement.

Guide to 'What to do in Retirement '. Content Links

So staying reasonably fit should form part of what to do in retirement. Health is vitally important to us all and, in retirement, we have the opportunity to keep ourselves fit and active both physically and mentally. Spending some time on both aspects will pay dividends in many ways and can be very enjoyable, too. It can lead to making new social contacts and friends and provide us with the means of being able to make the most of our retirement.

Keeping Physically Fit

It's really more about keeping active. We are not suggesting that, in retirement, we undertake some huge physical programme in order to turn ourselves into Olympic athletes. It is important, though, to use up at least as much energy as we did going to work and, if we enjoy it, and want to do more than that, that's a bonus. We can all think of ways of keeping active but here are some:

  • Walking. Walking in a group is a particularly good way of meeting people and making new friends
  • Swimming and Cycling. These are good for the over-50s because they do not place too much strain on our joints
  • Exercise classes - Yoga, T'ai Chi and Pilates or Aerobics and Aquafit. These classes provide the opportunity to meet people.
  • Join the local council-run leisure centre and take advantage of all the facilities there.
  • Play a sport and join a sports club. Sports clubs are usually very sociable places. Golf clubs, tennis clubs, bowls clubs and so on provide a very good social life, allowing us to meet younger people too, as well as the opportunity to take some exercise.
  • Gardening - particularly good for keeping the arm, shoulder and leg muscles in tone.
  • Housework - again, good for keeping our muscles toned up - especially our arms and chest.
  • Dancing. Dancing is very good exercise and, again, it provides the opportunity to meet new people.
  • Wii Fit. Wii Fit is now recommended by the NHS.
  • Play with the grandchildren

You may well have your own ways of keeping physically fit but do remember that, in retirement, we should try to be as active as possible so that we are able to do all those things that we want to do for as long as possible. For more thoughts on keeping physically fit, have a look at our Guide to Staying Fit and Healthy.

Keeping Mentally Fit

The brain is just like the body - if we don't use it, we'll lose it. Therefore, part of What to do in Retirement should be doing activities that keep us mentally active. Clearly, if we choose to do some work in retirement (click on Part 4 of this Guide in the box above) then we will get some mental stimulation. Apart from work, in broad terms there are two other ways in which we can get mental activity: taking a course in something and/or taking up a hobby or hobbies that cause us to use our brain.


There are many different organisations to which we can go in order to do a course. It doesn't have to be something academic in order to keep our brain active, but anything that will cause us to learn something new and therefore exercise our little grey cells, such as learning to cook, paint or embroider. There is the local Adult Education provision, the Workers' Education Association, the Open University and many more. One that we might get involved in is the University of the Third Age (U3A). This is run in local groups and is all voluntary. Anyone can lead an activity in just about anything in their group, so have a look at it.


There are many hobbies that will exercise our brain. There are card games such as Whist, board games like Scrabble, computer games, hobbies where we have to do some research such as Genealogy or Local History and many, many more. There are also things that we can just look at for a short while and then keep coming back to them, such as crosswords, sudoku, jigsaws and various mental puzzles. Doing some of these should be part of 'What to do in Retirement' so that we can keep our brain active whilst at the same time doing something enjoyable.

For more ideas on keeping mentally active, go to the Staying Mentally Fit page of our Guide to Staying Fit and Healthy. Make sure you read Part 3 of this Guide, too, by clicking on the link in the box above.

Now click on the links in the box above to read the rest of the Guide and get some more ideas for What to do in Retirement.

Related guides and articles:

Retirement Today - Introduction to retirement
Planning Retirement
When to Retire

Retirement Pensions

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This Guide to What to do in Retirement is written by Retirement Specialist Dave Sinclair supported by members of the LaterLife team. As well as writing on retirement matters Dave is Training Director at LaterLife and responsible for the content and continuous improvement of LaterLife's Retirement Courses.
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