2.8. Leisure Activities and Lifestyle

The end of labour is to gain leisure.”

Aristotle, Greek philosopher and polymath

Finally retired, lots of time for things that are fun. Many long for this but then boredom sets in and we don’t know what to do with all the time. Unfortunately, it is often the case that after a fulfilled and well-structured work life, pensioners suddenly have considerably fewer social contacts, don’t do anything with the time they have gained and feel lonely and bored. This makes it all the more important to stay active and find a meaningful activity that is fun and enjoyable.

There are already earlier phases of transition in life that determine your daily routine and your time. In middle age, perhaps your own children leave home or relatives you have cared for die – as with retirement, a new phase of life begins and time should be filled again.

What meaningful is and with what you want to spend your time, depends on you personally.

Let´s bring it to the point:

You need to consider

  • which activities you wish to abandon,
  • which should be continued
  • and which should be either expanded or newly engaged

So start your planning with the activities you are already doing and list them. Then think about which you would like to continue when you are older, and which you would like to disengage from. This does not mean you have to cut the cord quite yet! But it will give you an idea of where are you headed. Maybe you are currently passionate about training the youth team at the soccer club, but in 15 years you would probably like to pass on the torch.

When you have taken stock of your current activities, make a list of things you would like to take up in the future: The tour around Europe in a camper you and your partner always dreamed about? Gardening? Finally reading all those books you never have time for? Go to more concerts or visit all your friends regularly? Put it on the list!

“I just want to have fun after 65! This is my plan!”
Comment by a Greek interviewee, March 2021

Why not starting with some of your dreams and wishes right away, because ultimately you live in the here and now!

Anastasia Gerolymatou from Greece for example started surfing at the age of 41. “I found the person renting the surfboards, and when I told him I wanted to try he looked at me doubting I could make it. (…) I was having trouble turning around and coming back but I didn’t give up.” Meanwhile Anastasia Gerolymatou is 82. Last year, she sailed 18 nautical miles in six hours non-stop and took home the Guinness World Record for the planet’s oldest windsurfer. What an inspiring example!

Be realistic when compiling your list and also ask yourself questions like:

  • Will I be able to afford this?
  • Will I be physically and mentally able to do this?
  • Will I have the time to do this?
  • What do I have to do to realize my plans?

This will give you a pretty good idea of how to continue planning your leisure activities and lifestyle in older age! If you need some inspiration what kind of activities would suit you in later life, you can have a look at what is offered in your region for seniors.

Community Gardening – outdoor exercise, fresh air, home grown vegetables and social contacts for all ages – how perfect!

A good practice example from Spain: Urban farms

In the city of Barcelona, people aged 65 and older can be stewards of urban farm plots (huertos urbanos) that are distributed throughout the city. They can fill their own plots with things they plant following bio agricultural practices.

Each plot measures 25 to 40 square meters and people can plant anything they want including herbs, flowers, and vegetables. These farm plots serve as both leisure time activities and a way to improve the lifestyle of older people,

by encouraging them to be in natural spaces, encourage physical activity, and integration into their communities. To take care of a plot you should be over 65 years, and have established residence in the district where the farm is located. You should also be physically capable of light farm work.

More information: https://ajuntament.barcelona.cat/personesgrans/es/canal/horts-urbans

Urban and community gardens are springing up all over Europe, also regardless of age. They are a great opportunity to exchange ideas with like-minded people across age boundaries, to learn from each other, to grow and harvest something together. Many also offer courses and events.

Community gardens are open to everyone who helps in some way. If there is none in your region, you can also think about starting your own, here are some recommendations how to start: 

  • Organize a meeting of interested people
  • Find people who are interested
  • Check costs and how to pay them: Check sponsoring or membership dues to cover costs for the land, seeds, plants, water… Later on you can also organize events and ask for donations or sell something, offer workshops etc. to generate income
  • Choose a site: Take care about the soil and of the availability of water
  • Prepare and develop the site
  • Organise the garden
  • Invite children
  • Set up some ground rules
  • Communicate

Source and further information:

References & further reading
  1. Anastasia Gerolymatou on facebook. https://www.facebook.com/AnastasiaGerolymatouWindsurferOfficial/?tn-str=k*F
  2. Kraterou, Aliki. “Silver Surfer! Gran-of-Three, 81, Is the Oldest Windsurfer in the World.” Storytrender, 28 Aug. 2019, http://www.storytrender.com/102049/silver-surfer-gran-of-three-81-is-oldest-windsurfer-in-the- world/.
  3. Urban Gardening Project. Results. http://edu-urban-gardening.eu/results.html with examples