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What Men Want to Do in Retirement Homes: Go for a Walk!

If you’re an activity coordinator at a retirement home, one of the biggest possible challenges is finding activities that are appealing to men. After all, older women outnumber older men and tend to live longer. Because of that, you might focus on activities that women prefer instead of activities for older men.

Senior man walking. Walking is among favorite activities for older men.

“Men don’t usually care to do some activities that women love to do, or not for that long,” states the Nursing Home Activities Resource. “Tea parties, cooking and baking, even bingo and crafts can begin to bore some of the men that would like more masculine things to do and talk about.”

Instead, Debi Trammell, activity director at Crestview Court, a nursing facility in Cedar Hill, Texas, writes, “At the risk of generalizing, men of our residents’ generation enjoy activities that are competitive, productive, interesting and purposeful.”

To see for ourselves, recently conducted a senior living activities survey of more than 700 people nearing retirement age and older. We asked them what activities in senior housing most interest them.

Here are our top responses from men. (Look for our article on top activities for women Wednesday.)

Favorite Activities for Older Men

Graphic of top 10 activities for older men in retirement communities.

Walking / Hiking

The most popular activity for men, chosen by 45% of survey respondents, was walking and hiking. This is not a great surprise because studies have found that spending time outside makes people feel more alive.

“Nature is fuel for the soul,” says Richard Ryan, lead author of the studies and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “Often when we feel depleted, we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature.”

Another study found that walking can increase physical function and reduce the risk of disability for older people.

Swimming and Water Aerobics

Coming in second in our survey was swimming, at 33%. Those respondents will appreciate the many health benefits of swimming for seniors, such as improved heart health, increased flexibility, improved muscle tone and mental health, and a reduction in the risk of osteoporosis.

Exercise / Yoga Classes

Directly behind swimming, at 32%, was exercise and yoga. As with swimming, exercise and yoga can keep seniors physically and mentally sharp. And, because of this, it’s not surprising that active seniors tend to enjoy life more.

Cooking and Baking

A full 24% of male respondents chose cooking and baking as a favorite activity. That’s a higher percentage for men than for women (16%). There’s one stereotype shattered.

Sports / Singles Nights / Movies / Museums

Fifth place was a virtual four-way tie at 23% each. The favored activities were trips to museums and cultural events, singles nights and meet-and-greets, movie nights, and outings to sporting events.

Adhering to the stereotype (and some science), watching sports was the most male-dominated of those choices. Only about 8 percent of women wanted to be taken out to the ballpark – more proof for senior-living activity directors that differences in the sexes persist well into retirement.

Your turn: What activities are you looking for in a retirement community? Tell us in the comments.

Related: What Women Want in Retirement

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  • About Mark Edelen:

    Welcome to the Senior Living Blog. I direct and edit the blog for the best senior-housing and senior-living insight and advice, while also conducting search-engine optimization for the site as a whole. Follow me on Twitter @MarkEdelen.


    1. […] survey respondents – 24% – were interested in singles nights and meet-and-greets. Fortunately, about 23% of male survey respondents were interested in singles nights, […]

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