Living Well

8 Activities to Try in Retirement

Couple cycling in bushland

There’s more to retirement than simply no longer going to work.  

Today’s over- 50s are spending their post-work years doing the things they want to do – and discovering new interests, sports and hobbies along the way. 

According to the 2023 State of the Older Nation study from COTA, 67 percent of Australians over 50 feel more than seven years younger than their age with 72 percent rating their quality of life as high.

Part of that is down to taking part in regular activities in retirement with nearly half of Australians over the age of 65 participating in physical activity five times a week.

Discovering new interests and hobbies also features highly, say 33 percent of those surveyed in the Australian Seniors 2021 Mindset Shift Report.

In this article, we look at popular activities to try in retirement. 


8 Retirement Activities to Try  

Many people acknowledge the importance of planning for retirement and much of this centres on the financial aspect of retiring as well as checking off as much as you can from that bucket list. 

Travel, of course, comes at the top of the list 

1. Travelling

‘Travel more!’ is the cry of most Australians over 50 and being retired is the ideal time to do it when you can spend longer exploring both overseas and local destinations. Forget about a flying visit, immerse yourself with a holiday that goes on for months instead of a couple of short weeks. 

According to Australian Seniors, the UK, the US, and Europe are on top of the travel wish list, followed by New Zealand and Australia itself. 

For those with a bucket list, international travel is top of the list at 35 percent, followed by more travel around Australia at 30 percent. 

Even budget-conscious retirees can indulge their passion for travel adventure by using their time and flexibility to get the best bang for their buck on great local and overseas destinations. 

Homeowners at GemLife over-50s lifestyle resorts have even more options with state-of-the-art motor homes to hire at reduced commercial rates thanks to the exclusive Explore by GemLife program

Learn more about how to travel cheap in retirement here.

2. Bucket list experiences

The Australian Seniors’ survey also reported that after travel the next two items on the list are activity-based experiences. Respondents divided their interests between trying an ‘extreme activity’ and attempting a ‘low-risk’ activity for the first time. 

Of course, what counts as ‘extreme’ is in the eye of the beholder, but if you are an adventurous soul there are plenty adrenaline-charged activities that will give you bragging rights with friends and family – such as ziplining, bridge climbs, jet boat rides, hot laps in a racing car, parasailing and so much more. Many of these activities can be combined with travel to ensure you have a greater tale to tell. 

But of course, not all bucket list experiences have to be extreme. For Anita and Andre, moving into a GemLife over-50s lifestyle resort gave them the opportunity to try new things.  

Since moving to GemLife Maroochy Quays, the couple’s social activities have increased tenfold, according to Andre.  

“We started doing dance lessons here,” he said. 

“Residents Joy and Emanuel Conti teach on cruises but also teach at the resort, so we are now socialising while learning ball room dancing, slow fox trot, waltz and rumba.”  

“We just have to practise more because we keep forgetting the steps,” Anita laughed.  

“We’ve also taken up table tennis and pickleball recently. I’m so proud of that. I’ve never been a sporty person but there’s a first time for everything,” Andre added. 

Read more on Anita and Andre’s story here.

3.  Exploring the Great Outdoors

When you’re no longer subject to the nine-to-five grind, taking the time to explore the great outdoors in your local area is a great way to get some regular exercise and learn more about the place you live and the surrounding areas.  

Australia is a gorgeous country, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the beauty in your own backyard. 

Walking has been shown to do as much as running to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol, while walking in nature specifically has been shown to even reduce depression. 

If fitness is your goal, taking part in community events such as Run the Rock at Mt Macedon is a great way to enjoy the beautiful location. Or if you prefer to take it a little easier, Highfields, which is near Toowoomba has some great walks to try.

The Gold Coast is known for its beaches, but it also has some lush parks to explore including the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens where the Friends of the Gardens groups host guided walks. [[Link to:]] 

Or why not get on your bike? Many regional councils around Australia have great cycle routes to follow.


Over 50s couple enjoying a bike ride.

4. Creative Pursuits

When was the last time you exercised your creative flair? It might have been a hobby you enjoyed before the pressure of career and family put it on the backburner – like building (miniatures) or it could be something new entirely. 

Best of all, it can be anything that appeals such as woodworking, tapestry, patchwork, and painting.  

One of the advantages of living in an active-50s resort such as Gem Life are the wide range of activities and groups that are available to join.  This gives you the opportunity to connect with other hobbyists and learn from their experience. 

Why not try the performing arts? Choirs, bands and dance troupes are always looking for new members. 

 5. Take Up a Sport

You’re also never too old to take up a sport, whether it is 18-holes of golf, pickleball or even a half marathon.  

Sports are a great way to rediscover that competitive spirit as well as make new friends and to keep fit.  

Best of all there are plenty of sports that suit all age and fitness levels from newcomers to masters. One of the most popular of these is pickleball – a tennis like game that is played on a smaller court.

Dragonboat racing is also a popular sport that many people come to a little later in life. 

And, if you find you have an aptitude for sport, there are many opportunities to play competitively. 

At GemLife over-50s lifestyle, homeowners can complete in the GemLife Games where homeowners from each resort get together for a big one-day event to compete in one of seven sports. 

If a fit and active lifestyle is on your agenda, look for an over-50s lifestyle resort with plenty of high-quality sporting facilities as well as encouragement to take part in active community events. 

6. Volunteering and Giving Back

Share your wisdom, experience and time by volunteering. Not only is it a great social outlet, but also you make a real difference in causes that you feel passionate about.  

Giving just a few hours of your time has some benefits for you as well as the charity that you support. Volunteering relieves stress and symptoms of depression, improves relationships as well as boosts self-esteem. 

And volunteering with friends can also be fun as well as keeping you fit. 

Urged on by her daughter who had been a marathon runner herself, Robyn Bell, a grandmother of six, took up running for fitness and charity.

“I wasn’t sure how I would go, but my daughter was helping to raise money for a new hospice for terminally ill children in Brisbane called Hummingbird House. She came up with the idea to start a running team to help with the fundraising. That was the reason I started running in the first place,” she said.  

Robyn says she was a real novice, but the running group put her on track as far as knowing the right way to progress in the sport.  

“They virtually taught me to run. It’s easy to say you want to run but there are so many things you need to know such as how to breathe correctly and run effectively.” 

7. Learning & Education

You’re never too old to learn – and better still, learning just for fun. Learning a second language, for instance, will help you while travelling and on-going research is currently exploring how being bilingual helps keep your brain more nimble. 

At over-50s lifestyle resorts like GemLife, homeowners who have a lifetime of experience to share often hold classes for other residents, just as Colin and Elizabeth did. And now homeowners at GemLife Maroochy Quays attend twice weekly sign-language classes. 

Keen to get to know their new neighbours, the couple were quick to take up invitations to attend free cooking and water aerobics classes but were immediately faced with the dilemma of not being able to hear the instructor, so they called longtime friend Gail to join them and interpret.  

Gail’s use of sign language captured the imagination and attention of their classmates, and she was soon bombarded with questions and interest from homeowners who wanted to interact with Colin and Elizabeth more regularly.  

“It was amazing, and I became a bit of an interpreter for them all. Everyone wanted to know how to do it,” said Gail.  

The interest was met with great excitement by Colin and Elizabeth who, along with Gail, volunteered to teach the skill at specially organised sign language classes held in the poolside summer house. Lessons are also posted on Facebook to give participants an opportunity to practice. 

Engaging activities such as crossword puzzles, sudoku, and reading are great ways to keep your mind active along with classes held by the University of the Third Age and Open University.

Learn more about Colin and Elizabeth’s story here.

8. Gardening

Cultivate a little bit of nature close to home with a garden. Even keeping a small plot, supplies many of the emotional and health benefits of spending time in nature such as gentle exercise and movement. 

According to GemLife homeowners Ursula and Lynne, their homes wouldn’t be complete without a garden. 

Ursula has created a tropical oasis at her GemLife Palmwoods home. 

“I wasn’t a natural gardener at all,” she said. “But soon after my husband passed away, I wanted to create something beautiful.”  

Ursula has gone for a tropical feel with her choice of planting, creating a lovely sunny location to enjoy a morning cup of tea.  

“I can see palms outside my kitchen window, I’ve planted ornamental ginger which has beautiful flowers, and elephant’s ears.” 

Lynn and Gordon at GemLife Woodend have turned their garden into a year-long feast for the senses.   

When setting out their garden Lynne had one stipulation.  

“I have to see flowers all year around,” she said. “So, we’ve planted flowering annuals in pots and have different varieties of camellias planted along the back wall so when one plant finishes flowering, there is another one in bloom.” 

GemLife over-50s lifestyle resorts also have community vegetable gardens that groups of volunteers tend. 

Residents can use the garden any time and pick things like silver beet, lettuce and other crops such as bok choy, spring onions and year-round produce.  

“We have signs all over the place to help residents, like ‘pick me’ or ‘let me grow’ and have an honesty box in the garden,” said Elaine from GemLife Highfields 

Community spirit runs high at the resort, with many donating to the project while others create products to help.  

“We are grateful to residents who make generous donations including a shredder, wheelbarrow, tools, bales of mulch and fertilisers,” she said. 


Group of GemLife residents in their community garden.

Experience a whole new life

Life after 50 is your time to shine and the opportunities are nearly limitless. Whether you’re planning to travel, learn new skills or check off your bucket list items, it’s important to find the best place to live to make the most of these lifestyle years. 

If travel is on that list, you’ll be looking for a home that gives you ‘lock-up-and-leave’ peace of mind that you’ll find in a gated community. 

And if being part of a community to make friends and learn new skills is important, you’ll be looking for a lifestyle resort for active over-50s with a strong community spirit and loads of fun. 

GemLife is one of Australia’s fastest-growing over-50s lifestyle resort operators, with 10 communities across Queensland, northern New South Wales and Victoria, and more in the pipeline. 

For more information, reach out to our specialist team or request an info pack.