Taking up one of these hobbies for women will not only mean that you develop a new skill, but could also improve your overall health and wellbeing, not to mention help you meet some new people in the process.
Taking some time to disconnect from the daily grind isn’t just relaxing—it’s essential. Burnout is all too often a symptom of hectic modern life, so it’s important to carve out time to unwind and destress. And engaging with new hobbies and interests is arguably one of the best ways to do this, allowing you to enjoy yourself while unplugging from things like work, family stress, and errands.
As well as helping to relax your mind, hobbies can reconnect us to things we truly enjoy doing—they don't need to be productive, or earn us money. Many of these hobbies for women are inexpensive, too, with fun activities such as cold water swimming, yoga for beginners and fermenting requiring very little in terms of start-up costs. We’ve weighed up the most popular hobbies for women below—including fitness options, hobbies you can do at home, hobbies you can do in the kitchen, and other creative hobbies—to help you decide which is the right one for you.
Why are hobbies good for our health?
Hobbies can be a lifeline when it comes to dealing with stress. Family psychotherapist Jay Perkins of Partisan (opens in new tab) explains, “Hobbies are a way to detach ourselves from the anxieties of everyday life and can provide a valuable escape route for our minds. Even just half an hour spent engaging our minds on a hobby can have a positive impact on our mental health."
Research from the National Library of Medicine (opens in new tab) shows how hobbies stimulate the reward system in our brain and release hormones such as dopamine that motivate us to do the hobby again, as well as having more individual benefits. Playing a musical instrument, for example, is said to improve memory according to Dr Ciara McCabe (opens in new tab), a professor of neuroscience, psychopharmacology and mental health. Dr McCabe also links reading and board games to preventing dementia in later life.
"People with hobbies are less likely to struggle with depression, stress, and low moods,” Poonam Dhuffer (opens in new tab), a meditation practitioner, told us. According to Dhuffer, hobbies are a great way to practice mindfulness too, who told us, “Crafting, for example, can calm our nervous systems, as we’re using our hands and brains together, being fully aware of where we are and conscious of what we’re doing."
The best hobbies for women
1. Practice yoga
Start up costs: $$ | Start up kit: Yoga mat, blocks and online classes | Indoor or outdoor: Both | Group activity: Optional | Skill level: Class dependent
Yoga is about so much more than simply rolling out your best yoga mat and honing your technique—it’s a whole lifestyle and the more you learn about yoga and its ancient principles, the more it will benefit you off the mat.
“Yoga isn't just about the postures themselves, the practice takes us on a journey of self-discovery,” Lauren Brady, yoga teacher and founder of Lauren Brady Yoga (opens in new tab) told w&h. "Firstly connecting us to our bodies and breath, and then taking us deeper. We learn to see ourselves more clearly on and off the mat, to witness our thoughts and reactions, and ultimately it guides us to see that we are part of something greater than ourselves, connecting us to our spirituality.”
Yoga is one of the most popular exercise forms in the world, as well as being one of the most popular hobbies for women. Last year the Yoga Alliance reported that around 36 million people were regularly practicing yoga in America alone and 56% of those were classed as beginners. With so many tutorials online, yoga is a hobby that you can get started with very easily. The benefits of yoga are clear; not only will you feel stronger and fitter, but yoga can also help reduce stress, increase happiness and improve memory function.
- Will improve fitness levels
- Boosts mental wellbeing
- Increased flexibility
- Teaches valuable life lessons
- Can be difficult to master at first
- Classes can be expensive
All you need to begin practicing yoga is a mat, which you can use in the house or garden, and some workout clothes. Comfort is key, so make sure you choose activewear that fits well and feels great. If sore joints are an issue, you could try one of the best thick yoga mats, too.
2. Nordic Walking
Start up costs: $$$ | Start up kit: Walking poles, walking shoes | Indoor or outdoor: Outdoor | Group activity: Optional | Skill level: Medium
- Will improve fitness and muscle strength
- Aids weight loss
- Promotes eco-therapy
- Great way to explore surroundings
- Can be expensive
Nordic Walking uses poles that propel you forward. This means you engage your upper body more than when rambling or trekking. It’s also great for those with joint problems, as the poles mean you’re applying less pressure when walking. “Public Health England and the Centre for Aging Better recently said it’s one of the best activities for strengthening muscles and balance,” Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones told w&h. “Which is essential, as this tends to deteriorate as we age, making us more prone to falls.”
It's no secret that walking in nature is good for body and soul, with the benefits of forest bathing earning it a huge following across the world. Whether you live near the ocean, forest or want to take in the sights of your hometown, walking gives us space to think, gets our joints moving, and allows us to breathe in some fresh air. Nordic walking poles cost around $30 / £30 and you will also need a good pair of walking shoes (check out our guide to the best women's walking shoes if you're in the market for a new pair). Then it's worth getting in touch with a Nordic Walking instructor to find out about walking routes near you. You can find out more (opens in new tab) at Nordic Walking UK.
3. Wild swimming
Start up costs: $$ | Start up kit: Swimming costume, (optional) wetsuit, swim boots, swim gloves, wooly hat | Indoor or outdoor: Outdoor | Group activity: Optional | Skill level: Medium
Wild swimming—also called open-water swimming—has been rising in popularity for a few years now, making it one of the best hobbies for women if you're looking to take up something physical, invigorating—and maybe a little out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of health benefits of cold-water swimming, including an instant mood boost, increased fitness levels and better circulation.
Matt Ovenden, on-the-water expert at Borrow A Boat, says, “The thrill and exhilaration that comes with wild swimming has meant it’s fast become a national pastime. Far from just a way to exercise, wild swimming comes with a plethora of mental and physical health benefits, from the cold water helping to boost your immune system to the release of endorphins giving you a natural high."
- Good for both your mental and physical health
- Gets you outside
- Can be a social activity
- It can be uncomfortable to begin with
- Not advised for those who aren't strong swimmers
To get started, invest in a good-quality swimsuit and potentially a wetsuit. You'll also need to purchase some neoprene swim gloves and boots if swimming in colder temperatures (some wild swimmers also prefer to wear aquashoes while wild swimming to protect their feet from any potentially rocky ground) and complete an induction at your local ponds, lake or by the sea depending on where you want to wild swim. There are additional health benefits to swimming in the sea thanks to its high salt content, but some may prefer a secluded and still lake to get their ecotherapy fix. For guidance, take a read through the Outdoor Swimming Society Swim Responsibility Statement (opens in new tab) and always chat safety considerations through with a lifeguard beforehand.
“The beauty of wild swimming is that it’s a simple, low-cost hobby that anyone, regardless of age, gender, background, can enjoy with opportunities to enjoy it wherever you live," Ovenden explained. If you don't feel confident heading out on your own, there are plenty of groups to join where you can wild swim with others in tow. The Outdoor Swimming Society's website (opens in new tab) has an extensive list of local groups to join.
Start up costs: $ | Start up kit: Just bring yourself—and maybe a good pair of trainers | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: Optional | Skill level: Easy
- It's great for fitness
- It's a lot of fun
- Can be a great way to socialize
- Can be as inexpensive as you like
- You may feel self-conscious at first, but the most important thing is to have fun!
Dancing is arguably one of the most fun hobbies to pick up, and it's fantastic for upping your fitness levels too. According to the NHS (opens in new tab), it's brilliant for weight loss, as well as improving your posture and your bone and muscle strength. Not only is dancing good for your body, but it's also a great way to improve your mental health too—it releases endorphins which can make you feel relaxed and happy.
If you're keen to take up dancing as a hobby, there's also nothing stopping you from getting started right now. If you'd rather learn to dance in a more professional setting though, there are always local dance groups running. Plus, learning to dance with others is a great way to socialize, and have fun at the same time.
You can try your hand at any form of dancing, be it modern dance, classical dance such as ballet, or professional dance numbers such as the foxtrot and the tango. Lessons vary in price, especially if you opt for pricier one-on-one sessions as opposed to group classes. But you can make a start yourself right away (and for free). Simply put on your favorite up-beat song and go for it!
5. Try your hand at jewelry making
Start up costs: $$ | Start up kit: A jewelry making kit | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: No | Skill level: Medium
- You're left with a unique finished product
- Can generate great gifts
- Encourages mindfulness
- Provides a creative outlet
- Can be expensive
- Patience is a must
- Labour intensive
The best jewelry-making kits will include everything you need to take up this rewarding hobby, including any necessary tools and detailed instructions. Kits usually come with wire, string, needles, hooks, lobster claws, and clasps. And if you’re still not sure, there are so many online jewelry-making classes that will help you perfect your craft—it's never been easier to learn how to make jewelry at home.
Crafting your own jewelry has long been considered a therapeutic creative outlet—it’s time-consuming, but produces a beautiful result. You could start with something really simple, such as learning how to make a bead bracelet and then work your way up to intricate, one-of-a-kind statement pieces. Learning how to make earrings is also a good first step, as a simple style can still look really effective.
Jewelry-making is one of the most popular hobbies for women. Make unique pieces to update your look, or create homemade gifts for loved ones. Before you know it you could have a covetable collection, whether you want to set up a store on Etsy or keep your creations for yourself.
6. Embroidery, tapestry or knitting
Start up costs: $ | Start up kit: Knitting/embro needles, fabric and thread or yarn | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: No | Skill level: Difficult—at first!
- Mindful activity
- Beautiful finished product
- Will leave you feeling accomplished
- Great new skill to learn
- Can be difficult to master
- Can be expensive
Taking up embroidery, knitting or tapestry can be as simple or complicated as you like. If you want to try basic embroidery, all you need is some fabric (like cotton or calico), an embroidery hoop, embroidery needles, and thread. You can order all you need online from a craft store such as Hobbycraft—just look for the section on basic stitches.
If you want to hone your craft further, you could teach yourself how to stitch with one of the best sewing machines via online tutorials, to create beautiful textiles at a quicker pace (our guide on easy sewing machine projects is also a great place to start!) This being said, there's something to be said for the slow and mindful pace of embroidering or knitting, methodically working towards a finished product. It's meticulous work, but deeply satisfying when you're left with the finished item.
You might like to start with embroidering a name, simple pattern, or a floral design. To begin, simply draw on your cloth with a pencil and stitch on top—adding buttons and sequins is an easy win. And if you’re a confident artist, try recreating a portrait in stitch. There are plenty of online tutorials to get you started, like this video (opens in new tab) that walks you through seven basic embroidery stitches, or this knitting video (opens in new tab) that will teach you the basics. It's one of the easier hobbies for women to pick up without much prep at all.
7. Learn how to make Macrame
Start up costs: $$ | Start up kit: String or cord, online tutorial | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: No | Skill level: Difficult—at first!
- So in vogue right now
- Suitable for a range of abilities
- Beautiful finished product
- Time consuming
- Fiddly with plenty of room for error
Macrame was all the rage in the '70s. Now—along with houseplants—it’s back in vogue. Making a macrame plant pot holder is one of the easiest ways to try out this skill and you can then move on to more advanced patterns. It’s a low-cost hobby, too. All you need is string/cord and a little patience—and pot holders make lovely gifts, making it one of the more lucrative hobbies for women.
There are good things and bad things about taking up macrame and if you're not one who possesses much patience, then it's probably not for you, as this is one hobby that takes a little time to develop the skill. However, once you master it, it's a great creative skill to have as you can make a whole range of beautiful products. You can make home accessories like placemats and coats, make a lovely light spring jumper or you could even pair it with some feathers and come up with a magical dream catcher.
8. Take up candle-making
Start up costs: $$ | Start up kit: Wax, a jar, a wick, and other household essentials—or, you can buy ready-made kits | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: It can be! | Skill level: Medium
You might not have considered it as a hobby, but let's face it—some of the best scented candles can be pretty pricey, so making your own is a great way to create some really unique candles that won't cost you the earth either. Candle-making is a brilliant way to get creative, plus it's one of our favorite hobbies to do at home when we want to relax and unwind.
We've got a full guide on how to make candles at home, but the very first things to consider when making a candle are the wax you will use, the container, the wick, and the fragrance or essential oils you want to create the scent of your candle.
- Calming and meditative
- Leaves you with a lovely end product
- Relatively low-cost to get started
- Can make for great DIY Christmas or birthday gifts
- Cost of this hobby can add up over time
- Not ideal for those who have children around often, given the hot wax
When it comes to actually creating your candle, the process is actually relatively easy. Put simply, it involves melting your wax and fragrance oils in a pan, inserting the wick, and leaving the candle to cool for at least 24 hours at room temperature.
Not only will taking up candle-making as a hobby leave you with a gorgeous end product you can enjoy almost instantly, it can also be really meditative and relaxing, as you work your way slowly through the process to create something tangible. Plus, it won't cost you loads to get started, and it's something you could enjoy with others too—why not try it out as an alternative date night idea with your partner?
9. Have a go at fermenting
Start up costs: $ | Start up kit: A fermenting starter pack, jam jars, veg | Indoor or outdoor: Indoor | Group activity: Optional | Skill level: Medium
- The finished product is tasty and edible
- Can be as time-consuming as you like
- A little messy
- An unsightly scoby is not for the squeamish
Gut health has placed itself firmly at the forefront of our health agenda, with the benefits of eating fermented foods obvious, from clearer skin to better organ function, as well as having a significant impact on our mental health. They don’t call the gut the ‘second brain’ —a term coined by medical experts to explain the importance of what's happening in our guts - for nothing. Thanks to our newfound respect for gut-loving foods, fermentation has become a popular hobby, with many heading to the kitchen to cook up kefir, miso paste, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha.
Kombucha in particular is having a health-food moment, with sales skyrocketing in recent years. “At LoBros we sold more than 2million bottles in 2020, with online sales growing 127%,” Natalie Stanton, head of sales at Soulfresh UK told w&h. “Brewing your own kombucha has also seen a resurgence, with sites like Happy Kombucha selling everything you need for a homebrew kit. It’s a fun hobby with a delicious outcome.” Kombucha is easy to brew at home if you have the correct tools; sugar, tea, and a living bacteria culture called a scoby.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are also easy enough to whizz up in a blender or food processor. To rustle up some kimchi, all you need is a diced crunchy vegetable, salt, and a jar with a well-fitting lid—so it's a great one to start with. Dr Clare Bailey, the wife of Dr Michael Mosley, who is famous for his No Sugar Diet, is a big fan of fermented food kimchi. She has incorporated it into their Fast 800 intermittent fasting plan and the couple praise gut-friendly foods as a whole in their book, The Clever Guts Diet. If you want a hobby that will boost your health from the inside, it looks like fermenting is the way to go.