Baby boomers have adopted attitudes and lifestyles unlike any previous generation. The 78 million diverse Americans born between 1946 and 1964 enjoy a variety of activities, ranging from aerobics and workouts to quality time with their favorite rock ‘n’ roll albums according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
But there’s more to the generation that coined the phrase, “Never trust anyone over 30.” For starters, aging baby boomers are unlikely to settle for their parents’ versions of fun—when is the last time you saw someone playing bingo or mah jong?
Indeed, experts predict baby boomers will vastly redefine expectations of retirement and aging. According to a study published by Harvard School of Public Health/MetLife Foundation, today’s 60 year-olds can expect to live at least another 20 years. The question becomes, how do you spend that time?
So what are popular baby boomer activities? Here’s the top 10 countdown, according to HowStuffWorks.
Hitting the gym and playing sports are popular among baby boomers. These individuals focus on feeling healthy and young while also combating obesity and other health-related problems. Baby boomers participate in a mix of solitary and group activities such as tennis, golf, jogging, walking and aerobic exercise, to name a few. This generation is known to take exercise seriously—maybe even too seriously. Coined “Boomeritis,” many active baby boomers are breaking their aging bodies by overdoing it. But they aren’t letting chronic conditions or age slow them down. Instead, they’re getting knee and hip replacements and rotator cuff surgeries to help them stay active later in life. Baby boomers are expected to boost the number of knee replacements by 800% by 2030.
Many baby boomers plan to continue working well after the customary retirement age of 65. Of those who opt to stay in the work force, two-thirds plan to make a career change. According to a survey by Merrill Lynch, a great number of baby boomers are eager to switch to professions such as consulting and teaching, where they can use their experiences to help and guide others. Baby boomers are also testing the waters of the entrepreneurial world, as many express interest in creating new businesses or independent work.
How could the generation that attended Woodstock and coined the term rock ‘n’ roll ever stop keeping the beat? It turns out baby boomers are aggressively wooed by the music industry as a profitable demographic. Baby boomers tend to love live concerts, and can better afford the ticket prices of some top bands. Groups such as the Rolling Stones—and even U2, made up of baby boomers themselves—have the highest-grossing tours these days, even though the bands’ biggest hits were topping the charts decades earlier. A 2011 Pew Research Center poll reported that as many as 40 percent of baby boomers own an iPod or MP3 player, suggesting they still constitute a reasonable size of the music market in recent years.
When compared to their parents, baby boomers would rather take a shot at skydiving than remain grounded. As in many other aspects of life, baby boomers tend to take it a step further than previous generations. Among the demographic, extreme sports such as rafting, skydiving and paragliding commonly frequent boomers’ itineraries. Snowshoe Magazine’s article titled “More Baby Boomers Play Extreme Sports and Take Their Lumps” speaks for itself: boomers love staying active and many of us feel younger than we are even well into retirement.
Though many baby boomers say they want to volunteer more, especially after reaching retirement age, actually doing it is another matter. According to experts, an individual’s activities volunteering peak mid-life, not during retirement, meaning that baby boomers who aren’t already volunteering are unlikely to increase their activities. So far, boomers lack a track record as stellar as their parents, a group called the “greatest generation” because of its civic involvement. So while volunteering is projected to be popular among baby boomers by boomers themselves, experts are unsure whether baby boomers keep their word about wanting to give more time to local causes [source: Harvard School of Public Health/MetLife Foundation].
Hanging out near the coast is a popular pastime for all ages, but baby boomers are especially lured to all sorts of water views. That’s why many of their most popular outings to include rafting, cruises and water sports at the ocean, lakes and rivers. Above all, baby boomers want to unwind, and coastal communities often create relaxing atmospheres perfect for their retirement needs.
Even though the majority of baby boomers are still married, the group has the highest divorce rates among all age groups, leaving many candidates looking for love. One source states that 35 percent of baby boomers are rebounding from a divorce [source: Schlesinger]. It’s no wonder, then, that dating has reclaimed popularity among baby boomers. And now, with the ease of Internet dating sites, boomers can search the globe—not the local supermarket—for that perfect someone.
Home improvement projects and do-it-yourself efforts are popular among baby boomers. It makes sense to keep your home up-to-date, especially if you’re looking to stick with your current residence as you age. Home improvement efforts also make sense for baby boomers who want to downsize. But “do-it-yourself” isn’t limited to construction and plumbing. Many baby boomers are proud of being self-sufficient. That’s why gardening, canning and crafting handmade products such as clothing and furniture are DIY activities baby boomers do well in retirement.
Generally speaking, baby boomers take pleasure in learning about new technology. A Harvard School of Public Health/MetLife Foundation report found that about half of baby boomers are comfortable using the Internet, while only 20 percent of people 57 and older use it confidently. The vast majority of baby boomers also own a cell phone and desktop computer. They also explore unfamiliar technology better in comparison to their parents. Baby boomers have no qualms about using technology to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances of years’ past. Social media websites such as Facebook allow us to maintain and make new friends. And, as our #4 pastime suggests, baby boomers are also more adventurous in dating online when compared to their older counterparts.
Most baby boomers strive to participate in activities they find spiritually and socially meaningful. In contrast to their parents and perhaps even younger generations, baby boomers prefer more public, face-to-face outings, which is why socials, art galleries, sporting events and cultural experiences are so popular among the group. Interacting with people in public rather than staying at home comes natural to the outgoing generation of baby boomers.
NOTE: This is an abridged version of “10 Popular Baby Boomer Activities,” which appeared originally in How Stuff Works.