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Top 5 Retirement Activities for Women

Lounging time is over. Let's get moving! See more healthy aging pictures.
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Being retired can be a rewarding time, especially when it's filled with entertaining and worthwhile activities. Baby Boomers are reaching their golden years, and their determination to make the most of the experience is changing the face of old age in America. Forget the park bench. Going gray doesn't mean settling gently into a slow decline. For many retirees, it means the pursuit of a healthy, vigorous old age.

Let's take a look at five activities older women are drawn to. Developing new interests in later life or finally having the time to indulge in some long-neglected pastimes is the order of the day.

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Get your creative juices flowing.
Get your creative juices flowing.
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Retirees may have seen some economic reversals in recent years, but even an uncertain financial climate isn't keeping them from enjoying creative outlets. Mature adults and retirees comprise the largest market segment for crafting activities like scrapbooking, knitting and quilting. Although learning new skills and making gifts for friends and family are big factors in the popularity of crafting, a $30 billion industry in the U.S. in 2006, sites like Etsy.com and eBay.com are making it easy for skilled crafters to take their passion to the next level.

With a few supplies, some research and a knack for the creative process, a crafty retiree can earn extra income online selling crafts without incurring the burden of high startup and operating costs. Crafts can be very time intensive, so the financial rewards may only add up to a little spending money, but for the fixed income senior, that and the challenging fun of creating something beautiful could be enough.

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Going back to school, even if it's an extension course offered by a local community college, is another popular way seniors are enriching their retirement years. Programs offered by museums and local outreach organizations provide entertaining instruction in everything from bird-watching to bookbinding.

For more sedentary seniors, book reading is big, too. In 1999, a Book Industry Study Group analysis found that readers 55 and over accounted for more than a third of the book buying market. In retirement, dedicated readers of fiction, non-fiction and biographies are likely to continue or increase their reading activities, and even occasional readers are more likely to explore reading options like magazines and e-books.

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Whether it's through a local church program or a national organization, seniors with the time and desire are finding many volunteer options to choose from.

One big way seniors are fulfilling niche volunteering is by locating programs that complement their interests and strengths. Volunteer efforts don't have to be on a grand scale, either. Whether senior volunteers are contributing by making pet toys for animal shelters, creating quilts for military servicemen wounded in action or stocking local food banks to help the hungry, they're offering a helping hand where it's needed.

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Show them who's boss at the finish line.
Show them who's boss at the finish line.
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Retired women are staying active and keeping fit, and although sports like golf and bowling are definitely on the list of popular leisurely physical pursuits, tai chi and yoga offer a workout as well as mood enhancing and maybe even spiritual benefits. Even activities like vigorous gardening are helping seniors develop lower heart rates and improved endurance.

When it comes to keeping in shape, seniors take exercise where they can find it, and turn their efforts into opportunities for social interaction, too. In 2002, almost one in every five fitness club members was over 55. Today parks, libraries, community colleges, senior centers and national organizations are offering more programs for active retirees than ever before.

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Reading a book can be a diverting pastime, and volunteering is certainly rewarding, but nothing beats taking a trip. Although not in everyone's budget, travel is on the wish list of many Baby Boomers and retirees, and may account for up to 80 percent of non-business travel. From learning a new skill like gourmet cooking (in Tuscany), to participating in either domestic or international goodwill projects, seniors who travel can tailor their excursions to fulfill passions like antiquing, museum hopping or just lazing around on the beach.

Whether it's a weekend getaway by car (or bicycle) or a cruise around the world, a change of scenery is the brass ring for many who look forward to the time when the week doesn't start with a long commute and a quick cup of coffee before the Monday morning meeting.

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