What Retirees Do All Day? | Complete Activity Guide

Are you wondering what retirees do all day? How retirees spent their time? I’ll tell you all about the most popular activities among retirees in this article. 

According to the American Time Use Survey, most retirees spend 16 hours a day on sports activities, leisure time and personal care (including sleep). Many retirees also spent a few hours a week on work-related activities. This is often volunteer work or a fun retirement job. 

I wrote this article to inspire you to plan your retirement with activities you love to do most. I’ll share some interesting facts from the American Time Use Survey done by the BLS. Popular activities in retirement, and why it is important to stay active once you’re retired. Let’s find out more! 

What Retirees Do All Day – American Time Use Survey Facts

Your upcoming retirement is probably something you’re looking forward too, but it can be scary at the same time as well. Many people struggle at first how they should spend their days in retirement. It can help to know what other retirees do all day. 

When we look at the American Time Use Survey done by the BLS, there’s actually nothing to be scared of. Most people in retirement spending their days with normal activities like sports, socializing, traveling, and personal care activities like sleeping. 

According to the American Time Use Survey, people between the age of 65 and 75 years and over, are spending on average, 9+ hours a day on personal care activities. 7+ hours of their time is spent on leisure and sports activities. 

Household activities (2+ hours a day) and eating/ drinking (1,5 hours a day) are also popular when we look at the average time spent.

When you’re looking at work-related activities, you can see that the older people get, the less time is spent on work-related activities. 

It is interesting to see that when you compare age groups from 45 to 64 years old with 65 and over, the most significant change in activities is work-related. Which is logical, because of retirement. 

You can see the full article on the website of BLS

I found it a bit shocking at first when I looked at the chart and saw the numbers of educational activities. These are very low in the age group for retirees. However, educational activities in this chart mean literally going to school or college. 

So when you’re reading a book (which can be educational) or following an (online) course, it belongs to ‘leisure activities.’ 

It is important to stay active in retirement because it is beneficial for healthy aging. When you’re keep learning, you keep your brain active, which helps to stay mentally fit. But later more on that. 

People spent much more time on leisure and sports activities, but what are actually those activities? Let me tell you more about the popular activities in retirement in the next part. 

Popular Activities In Retirement

There are basically three different ways to stay active in retirement. Physically, Mentally, and Socially. Of course, these three interact with one other. 

For example, when you go to a sports activity with are people, you’re both physically and socially active. You’re also mentally active because, according to this interesting article on Medical News Today, social interaction benefits your mental health. 

So, it is relatively easy to stay active on all three grounds. However, to keep everything as clear as possible, I divided the activities into three groups. 

Physical Activities

Did you know that the CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and 2 times a week muscle strength training for elderly people?

This advice is for people at the age of 65 or older, that are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions. 

Example of activities are; 

  • Hiking or Walking
  • Yoga (Only some specific types of Yoga)
  • Gardening/ Yardwork (Like lawn mowing)
  • Bicycle riding (both indoors and outdoors)
  • Water Aerobics or swimming 
  • Playing Golf

In my article How Can You Stay Active in RetirementI’ll share many more activity ideas.

Mentally Activities

Keeping your brain active is evenly as important for healthy aging as staying physically active. 

Following an active lifestyle will improve your chances of healthy aging and enjoying your retirement in the best way possible. 

When you stay mentally active, you can say that you keep your brain ‘up to date.’ It improves your memory, problem-solving, and concentration. 

There are many ways of staying mentally active. In the article I referred to earlier, “How Do I Keep My Brain Active In Retirement?” you’ll also find a list of activities that helps to stay mentally active. 

Examples of activities are; 

  • Reading Books
  • Learning A New Skill
  • Learn To Play A Musical Instrument 
  • Solve Puzzles
  • Taking a class

Take A Class

When you keep learning new skills, you’re not only socially active but also mentally and sometimes even physically active. It is one of the best things you can do! 

Did you know that many universities offer free college classes for senior citizens? The availability differs per state, you can find a comprehensive list here

It’s also possible to take a class from home, ever heard of MasterClass? It is a unique platform where you can learn from the best in the field. You can follow a tennis clinic from Serena Williams, a cooking class given by Gordon Ramsey, or a comedy class by Steve Martin. 

Learning a new skill was never that easy. It is an excellent investment for staying both socially and mentally fit. You can follow a class together with your spouse, and both learn new skills. 

The best way to use Masterclass is by using their all-access plan, which gives you access to all the classes on their platform! Check out all the masterclasses;


Have you ever thought of meditation? It’s like fitness for the mind, mental fitness. It helps you to keep a clear mind and stay mentally active. 

When you meditate, you allow your brain to process all the (daily) impressions. Do you know that feeling that right before you go to sleep, you think of all the experiences you had during that day? That’s what you’re also doing when you’re meditating. It’s a way of ordering your thoughts. 

Meditation not only helps you to stay mentally fit but also improves your sleep quality. 10 – 15 minutes meditating a day can be enough! I use the helpful smartphone app Headspace for meditating. For me, it works better when I follow a guided meditation.

Social Activities

Staying socially active is also very important. It is quite easy actually like I described in the example earlier. When you meet other people for a sports activity, you’re both physically and socially active. 

This interesting article on Harvard Health Publishing describes why it is important to stay socially active. The article states that a strong social life has been linked to health benefits and reduces the chance of depression.

People with many social interactions are less likely to be alone, and more likely to engage in physical and mental activities. Like playing sports, or playing games like chess. 

However, when you’re retiring, it can be challenging to keep up with your social relationships. A lot is changing in your private life when you’re retiring. Most people had most of their social interactions at work. When you stop working, there’s also a chance that you’ll have fewer social interactions.  

Luckily there are many easy ways how to stay social in retirement. You might be interested in reading my article, 20 Ways How To Stay Social After Retirement.

A few of the activities I share in that article are; 

Join A Club

Sharing your ideas and interests with like-minded people is probably one of the most fun and most accessible way to stay social. For example, when you like reading and discussing books, you can join a book club. 

When you’re looking for a new club or group to join, you can ask around, search online for clubs nearby, or use the useful smartphone app Meetup.


Traveling is probably one of the best things you can do to stay socially active. While traveling, you have the opportunity to meet other people with different backgrounds. You can learn so much from different cultures, and other lifestyles, even when traveling throughout the United States. 

Having a great travel adventure doesn’t mean that you need to go to a different country, of course, that’s possible. Still, there’s also a lot to explore in the United States. You can check out my article 20 Best Retirement Trips In The USA for more inspiration. 

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Make A Plan For Your Retirement

I genuinely hope that this article gave you a better idea of what retirees do all day. What I’ve learned when doing research for this article is that you can actually do whatever you like to do in retirement. 

As long as you stay active and keep up with your social interactions, there’s a good chance that you’ll experience fulfillment during your retirement. 

However, it is important to prepare for your retirement. Not only financially, but also knowing how you want to spend your time in retirement. If you have an idea of what you want to do all day as a retiree, there’s a higher chance that you’ll get the most out of your retirement. 

Creating a plan for your retirement can be easy and challenging at the same time. 

If you know what your passion is, for example, playing the guitar, it is easy to spend more time on this in retirement. Or when you always dreamed of traveling the world, you probably are making plans to make this dream come true in your retirement. 

But what if you don’t have any clue what you want to do when you’re retired? Don’t worry, that’s actually quite normal. 

As you could see in the American Time Use Survey, people’s behavior doesn’t change much once they get older. They spent more time on leisure activities, but most people keep things more or less the same. 

However, to stay active in retirement, and start making a plan for retirement, it helps to know what your passion is.

There are a few easy ways to find your passion, I describe them in my article 14 Tips On How To Find Your Passion In RetirementA few of these tips are; 

  • What are subjects you can read countless books about and not getting bored? 
  • What are the things you liked to do when you were a child? 
  • What is a stress reliever for you? 

Knowing the answers to those questions can help you in your search to find your passion.

Structuring Your Retirement Days

We already learned that retirees spend more time on leisure activities. However, to create a daily structure just like you had when you were still working can be challenging. 

When you’re retired, you don’t have a lot of daily obligations. It’s not necessary to set your alarm, you don’t have to get up early in the morning. 

Structuring your retirement days is another transition you go through in retirement. It can be helpful if you’re creating new daily routines. It might take some time to get used to these routines, though. In my article How To Spend A Day In Retirementyou’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to create new routines when you’re retired.

One of the highlights in this article is that I recommend starting with a positive morning routine. If you can start the day with some positive vibes, you’ll automatically get into a flow that often stays with you the whole day.

I often get up early, start with a healthy breakfast, meditate, go for a workout or a walk in the park. 

Maybe you can do something similar. When you start with a morning workout, you already had your important physical activity we talked about earlier about, so you don’t have to worry about that anymore!

Recommended Articles

A retirement is a life-changing event, and preparing for this event is essential. If you’re properly prepared for your retirement, it is easier to get the most out of your retirement years. 

Now that you know what most retirees do all day, you’re probably interested in some other information about retirement. Here are some articles that I wrote, that can be interesting for you; 

  • What Are The Five Stages Of Retirement? 
    When you transition into retirement, everyone is going through the same stages. Knowing more about these stages helps you to a smoother transition from work to retirement. 
  • What Do I Need To Know Before I Retire? 
    In this article, I share the most important things you need to know when preparing for your retirement. It is a complete guide with helpful and practical tips. 
  • What Should You NOT Do When You’re Retired? 
    We share a lot of helpful things you can do when you’re retiring, and how you can get the best out of your retirement. Still, there are also a few things you better avoid when you’re retiring. 

Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my husband Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. In the last couple of years, I wrote over 200+ articles about retirement and did extensive research to help people prepare, enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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