According to scientists, having a hobby in your 60s helps prevent depression.
The study suggests retired Brits should golf, fish or play bridge to protect their mental health.
The life satisfaction of more than 93,000 people over 65 in England, the USA, China, Japan and twelve other European countries was recorded.
The team said hobbies can help improve mental health in a variety of ways.
Dr. Karen Mak, from University College London, said: “This includes feeling in control of our minds and bodies, finding meaning in life and feeling competent in dealing with everyday problems.”
“Our study shows the potential of hobbies to protect older people from age-related declines in mental health and well-being.
“This potential is consistent in many countries and cultures.”
Around one in six Brits suffer from depression, and women are around twice as likely to suffer from a mental illness.
It is the most common mental health problem among older people, affecting approximately 22 percent of men and 28 percent of women aged 65 and over.
Previous research has shown that hobbies help reduce loneliness and protect against depression, but they have tended to focus on individual countries.
The latest study, published in Nature Medicine, examined whether this is the case worldwide and how hobbies also affect overall health.
Hobbies included “arts, crafts, reading, playing games, sports, gardening, volunteering, and participating in societies or clubs,” the researchers said.
Around 78 percent of the participants from England had a hobby.
For comparison: Denmark recorded the highest value (96 percent), while China recorded the lowest (37.6 percent), followed by Spain (51 percent) and the USA (56.2 percent).
Those who had a hobby reported better health, higher life satisfaction, higher levels of happiness, and fewer depressive symptoms than those who did not have a hobby.
Dr. Mak said: “Of the four outcomes, life satisfaction was most strongly linked to hobby engagement.
“Theoretical work suggests that the connection between hobbies and well-being could go both ways.
“People with better mental health are more likely to pursue a hobby, and persisting in a hobby can help us maintain greater life satisfaction.”
“Our research also supports policymakers in promoting access to hobbies among older people to improve their well-being and health.”