“So, do you have any hobbies?”
These days that feels like a quaint question. Hobbies sound like something from a rose-tinted past where extra-curricular activities might have included something more wholesome than Facebook, Netflix or five ill-judged pints of pale ale. Well, let’s change that.
We need more hobbies. Because frankly we could all do with a distraction or two. In a world that’s always on, always charged, where to-do lists are never-ending and everyone’s addicted to their screens, hobbies give you an out. They’re a way to unplug, relax, meet people (in physical, 3D form no less) and serve up an antidote to the general burnout of modern life.
Below, we’ve found no less than 50 hobbies for men, each of them designed to tackle an unwanted symptom of the rat race. Have fun.
Hobbies That Limit Your Screen Time
Modern life is mostly just sitting down and staring at a screen. In the office. At home. On the bus or the train. Let’s be honest, you’re doing it right now. And we all know that feeling of mental screen burn: that slightly wired fuzziness behind the eyes. The effects are real.
Studies have reported shrinking of brain tissue and impaired cognitive function from excessive screen time. A report from last year confirmed US adults were spending over 10 hours each day staring at a screen, while a UK study revealed we spend more time on devices than in bed. Prolonged TV viewing has also been connected to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
These hobbies will get you away from the screen and stimulate both body and mind.
Staring at your phone’s GPS isn’t just giving you screen-related fatigue, it’s stopping your brain’s ability to work things out – in this case directions – for itself. Urban orienteering is a half race, half mental challenge: reading a (real) map, while running, outdoors. The perfect remedy.
Play Adult Board Games
Studies have linked board games to boosts in cognitive skills and good mental health. And there are plenty of adult-orientated games out there. Try historical fantasy Scythe, space-opera strategy Quantum, or puzzler Sagrada. Joining a club is every bit as addictive as social media, only the people and interactions are real.
Start Ground Hopping
You can waste a lifetime watching sports on never-ending 24-hour channels, slowly frying your brain and adding extra pounds. Get out and see a game for real. In fact, go one better and visit as many stadiums and club grounds as possible in the sport you love the most – the ultimate collecting hobby for men.
Create Art… With Chainsaw Carving
Turn off the computer, go outside and do the manliest thing you can possibly do with your hands – carve something out of a massive block of wood with a chainsaw. It’s a rugged workout, but extra points if you make something actually artistic.
Start An Allotment
The health benefits for this are obvious: fresh air, sunshine, light exercise and an unlimited source of vitamins and minerals. It’s also the height of 21st century masculinity to grow your own (food that is, not a beard – though it helps the earthy hipster look). At the very least, try growing some herbs in a window box.
Take Photographs (Without Your Phone)
It seems like a thing of the past – a lost analog art, if you like – but there are still impressive film cameras available to buy. Old-school cameras are still superior in natural light for authentic-looking photographs. Plus, by having to get it right, you skip all the time you spend dropping filters or fiddling in post-production apps on your phone. You have to be in the moment.
Learn Some Magic
You can Tinder all you want, but you’re not going to learn any new ways to impress a potential date staring at your phone. And what’s more impressive than a flawlessly performed magic trick?
Solve Some Jigsaw Puzzles
Numerous studies have found evidence that puzzles help delay memory decline in old age and ward off degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s by keeping you mentally active. Jigsaws also require visuospatial skills, which engage different parts of the brain. Namely the ones that are usually fried into submission by your inbox.
Go Metal Detecting
A wonderfully lonesome pursuit for men who enjoy the great outdoors and the quiet thrill of trying (but inevitably failing) to find buried treasure. There’s also a whole detecting subculture and hobbyist clubs to get involved with and yes, there is a (slim) chance that you’ll find the Lost Ark of the Covenant.
Fishing (With Your Bare Hands)
If the only thing you do with your hands these days is click a mouse and swipe left, it’s time to go all hunter-gatherer. “Trout tickling” is a real thing – a technique that sends trout into a hypnotic daze when you stroke their undersides. If you can master that, you can call it a day on man-skills. You’ve already won.
Hobbies To Extinguish Burnout
Stress, exhaustion and being overworked can all lead to “burnout” – a very 21st century health problem. The symptoms are closely related to depression, such as severe anxiety, insomnia, and both physical and mental fatigue.
A YouGov poll in 2015 found that 51 per cent of full-time employees in the UK had experienced burnout. It’s all too easy to make it worse and keep piling on the work. But there’s only one way to tackle the effects: relax. Here are some suggestions for very chill, meditative hobbies that put your to-do list out of mind.
Become A Black Belt In Origami
A step-up from the old-school paper aeroplane, origami has seen a resurgence in interest for its ability to achieve mindfulness, tranquillity and even meditation through the art on teeny-tiny paper folding.
Build A City Out of LEGO
The adult LEGO fan community gets bigger all the time, but the beauty of LEGO is that it’s one of the all-time solitary activities. Designing and building is the perfect combo of taking on a manly project and and spending some serene, childlike time with oneself. The polar opposite of assembling flat-pack furniture.
A stylish alternative to the usually geeky hobby of memorabilia or stamps is collecting the best and rarest sneakers from around the world – from sports to hip-hop and custom-made designs.
The personal satisfaction of a great collection – especially one that makes you look so good – is immense. Seek out local stores rather than just relying on eBay.
Take Up Knitting
That’s right, knitting. In the last few years, more young men have taken up knitting as a pastime – not just to get creative with coloured wool, but because it’s an effective de-stresser and relaxation exercise. Plus, it’s absolutely bang on-trend right now.
Become A Spotter
Trainspotting is kind of old hat, but there are lots of other spotter hobbies: birds, of course, cars, dragonflies, trees, even fungi. All you need is yourself, some half-decent weather and a notebook.
Try Anti-Gravity Cocooning
It sounds like a craze – and it kind of is – but this is the perfect hobby for getting in the zen-zone. It’s essentially a light yoga-style workout while cocooned in a hammock suspended from the ceiling, followed by a bit of a nap, designed to energise both body and mind. It works.
Drive Fast Cars
Research nearby track days or driving experiences and drive something incredible that won’t require a remortgage. Getting behind of a powerful car can be literally and figuratively transportive for petrol heads.
Do Some Colouring
Colouring has become hugely popular for adult hobbyists, with colouring books among Amazon’s biggest sellers in recent years. Psychologists are reported to prescribe colouring to patients as a relaxation tool, and it’s proven to combat stress and anxiety by calming parts of the brain and refocusing attention.
Keep Lots Of Fish
Aquariums have long been associated with wellbeing and relaxation, presumably because we find watching fish relaxing. But researchers in 2015 found that tanks containing greater biodiversity – i.e. more species – made people happier and reduced their heart rate and blood pressure.
Bake Like A Man
Take the stress out of life by therapeutically kneading some dough and making something fancy that’s bad for the waistline but excellent for the soul. Besides, everyone knows that these days real men bake. It’s not just a hobby, it’s a life skill.
Hobbies To Improve Your Fitness
We hear about the obesity epidemic and the population’s worrying lack of fitness all the time. But keeping in shape is harder than it should be sometimes, especially with the lure of a comfy sofa and 12 years of boxsets to smash through.
In fact, it was reported recently that Brits spend more time on the loo each week than they do exercising – and 64 per cent of us sit down for at least six hours a day. Staying in shape needn’t be the chore that we build it up to be. Find a cool and engaging fitness trend and make it your hobby – before you know it you’ll actually enjoy fitness.
Take On Hardcore Yoga
Developed by former wrestling champ Diamond Dallas Page, DDP yoga is a mix of traditional yoga and bodyweight exercises that has already turned around lives (one army vet who was told he’d never walk unaided again now runs – yes, runs). Low impact and great for losing weight.
Enrol In Military-Style Fitness
Bootcamp-inspired fitness gets you outdoors and puts the focus on functional strength – the kind of real-world body strength and skills you can’t develop using only gym equipment. And because it usually comes in classes, chances are you’ll meet somebody just as knackered as you.
Run A Marathon
Want to work towards the ultimate fitness goal? Training for a marathon takes huge dedication but it’s arguably the most rewarding achievement you can possibly train for. It’s also completely possible with a little dedication, and the structured training can help a disorganised mind as well as your leg muscles.
Learn To Sword Fight
Swinging a longsword around Game of Thrones-style doesn’t just look cool, it’s a serious test of strength and endurance. Those swords are much heavier than they look, you know (and they already look pretty bloody heavy). Join local classes and find your inner Jon Snow.
Try Some MovNat
Running, jumping, climbing, wrestling – natural movements in the outdoors. The idea is to develop the kind of physicality which humans evolved, with a strong emphasis on natural environments to stave off immobility and the mental effects of being cooped up indoors all the time.
Get Into Audio Workouts
Downloadable audio workouts from online fitness platforms such as Daily Spot can boost your cardio performance with instructions, tips and banging tunes straight into your earphones. It’s got to better than being shouted at by a real personal trainer, right?
Go Up In The World With Stair Running
One of the big emerging trends in running – swapping the good old-fashioned park for a huge flight of stairs. Guaranteed to increase your lactate threshold, leg strength and muscular endurance, it will also improve standard flat level running and burn a serious amount of calories.
Delve Into Virtual Reality Workouts
Another digital fitness trend, this is where exercise meets geek culture (which doesn’t happen very often). There are several VR programs available for fitness – such as headset-exercise bike combos that create virtual environments to cycle through – or strap some bodyweight on to play your favourite shooter.
Become A Jedi
The art of lightsaber dueling – or LudoSport as it’s called in real life – is now a legitimate sporting discipline (no longer just grown men whacking each other with sticks and doing the noises). It requires skill and agility, and an allegiance to the Light or Dark Side of The Force. Seriously.
Take Up Muay Thai
Anyone who’s done boxing training will tell you this is one of the hardest of hardcore workouts there is – incredible cardio, strength, endurance, and coordination. Muay Thai is the hottest boxing style around, so there’s never been a better time to take it up.
Find Some Date Night Inspiration
Dating is changing. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of young Americans using online dating jumped from 10 per cent to 27 per cent – a number that’s only going to rise with the near countless number of sites and apps available. Which means dating is becoming formulaic: read the profile, swipe, meet for dinner (although a third of people using online dating never even go on dates – how uninspired is that?). Meanwhile, the average married couple reports being bored after two years.
In our hyper-connected world, people are finding it harder to actually connect. What we need is some creative and inspiring date night ideas to keep things exciting.
An app based-treasure hunt that uses GPS to help you find a hidden “cache” of goodies. Caches are stashed away in location all around the world. Like Pokemon Go, but for adults.
Work Up An Appetite By Taking Cooking Classes
It’s a good alternative to going out for a meal, of course, but a survey conducted last year found that couples who cook together also stay together. Eighty-seven per cent of people surveyed said cooking together strengthens a relationship, while 88 per cent of people in a relationship said cooking helped communication.
Take Dance Classes
There’s something eternally satisfying about the idea of surprising – and let’s face in, impressing – your mates by busting out some perfectly-timed dance moves at a party. It will be great fun learning too, literally keeping you in rhythm together.
Get Artistic With Life Drawing
Get some creative inspiration by taking drawing classes together. It could be good for your sex life too. Who wouldn’t feel frisky after staring at naked models all night?
Turn Up The Volume With DJ Classes
Imagine the street cred you’d get if you and your partner could hit the decks together, scratching, mixing and dropping bombs with mad relationship skills.
Indulge In Supper Clubs
For couples on the cultural cutting edge, your standard restaurant can be a dull option. Try a supper club instead. There are lots of unique pop-ups and themed clandestine eateries dishing up delicious grub in near secret. Tasty food – often served with side of theatrics – for diners in the know only.
Lose Yourself At Alternative Cinema Experiences
The cinema on a Friday and Saturday is mostly a nightmare: talking, mobile phones and popcorn being chucked about the place. Try taking your partner to a pop-up cinema – you can find great rooftop and beach cinemas when the weather’s right – or join a dedicated cinema club.
Go Cheese Tasting
Tasting – alright, scoffing – cheese is one of life’s greatest indulgences, dressed up as a posh social gathering. It shows a bit of imagination on date night, and you can impress her with the highly sophisticated ability to whiff a good cheddar from 10 yards. Just remember some mints.
Pencils, penises, and purposely shit art – there are museums dedicated to all sorts of weird things. Have a mini museum adventure and see something slightly bonkers for a truly memorable day out.
Take A Random Getaway
How many times have they said they’d like to go away one weekend, and you’ve mumbled in agreement but never done anything about it? Research has shown that vacations are good for your health and stave off heart problems. Do your partner (and ticker) a favour: stick a pin in a random location and get away for a couple of days a few times a year.
Self Development Hobbies
The reality of self improvement is a tricky one – we all want to be better at work, better in ourselves, and equipped with generally better life skills. There are countless apps to help brain, body and soul, and we’re constantly told that productivity is the result of a successful person. But it shouldn’t be all encompassing, of course. That’s a fast track to never achieving the ultimate goal.
Psychologists say that small, realistic goals are key for self-improvement, so why not start by taking aim with a hobby first. Here are some ways to get started with self-development and – most importantly – make it fun.
Join A Survival School
Self-improvement at its most primal level: fire-starting, outdoor shelters, foraging and animal tracking. Skills all men want and would secretly prefer to Instagram photo editing and fixing the WiFi router. Group survival courses also teach invaluable team and communication skills to take into the workplace (leave the skinned rabbit at home though, yeah?).
Learn Car Maintenance
Next time you have a flat tyre or something starts steaming under the hood, you’ll be able to sort it out yourself. It’s not just handy and cheaper than going to the garage, but fixing your own car is absolutely essential for achieving Peak Bloke.
Go Rum Tasting
Tasting whisky is old hat. Rum is on the verge of a flavoursome comeback, so now’s the time to learn how to be a connoisseur and develop a palate for the trendiest, tastiest spirit around.
Take A Stealth Fitness Class
This bodyweight HIIT class at Gymbox is more than just about physical fitness (though it’ll whip you in to shape double-quick), it’s about testing and improving mental strength though team exercises and individual competition. You’ll get a body and brain sweat on.
Read The Classics – In Another Language
We all wish we’d read more books and learnt another language. So kill two highly cultured birds with one stone. Research has found that learning a second language improves brain function by boosting multitasking, problem solving, decision making and even your grasp of English.
Take Up DIY
C’mon, there are a dozen little odd jobs that need doing around the house but you haven’t got the DIY knowhow to sort them out. Getting some basic DIY under your (tool) belt will save you money, teach you something new and help you rest easier in the knowledge that you’ve got actual man-skills.
Pick A World Cuisine Each Week And Master It
Not only a way to force yourself to learn new things, this also means you’ll been eating healthier and a more varied diet. Having a repertoire of world cuisines is a surefire way to impress a date too.
Become A Quizmaster
This is a scientific fact: every man wants to be the grandmaster of trivia and general knowledge (okay that may not be scientific, but it is a fact – as a true trivia master would know). Bone up on history and popular culture to get serious about the pub quiz circuit.
A famous 1990s study found first-time players of Tetris had a thickening of the cerebral cortex – learning the game was stimulating the brain and activating neural circuits. It’s not just Tetris either, but when learning any game. With retro gaming on the 1up, what a great excuse to re-learn Mario, Street Fighter and Pac-Man.
Learn To Play An Instrument
It’s one of the most commonly cited activities for helping increase IQ. And there’s evidence that playing music changes the structure and function of the brain, with parts of your grey matter that control memory, hearing and motor skills becoming more active. Plus, playing ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ on the accordion is quite the party piece.