Staying Motivated to Exercise: Tips for Older Adults
Four tips for older adults to stay motivated to exercise
Physical activity is a great way for older adults to gain substantial health benefits and maintain independence. Try to make exercise a priority. Remember that being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve health. Try these tips to help you stay motivated to exercise.
1. Find simple ways to make exercise fun and enjoyable
Some people like to walk on a treadmill at the gym. Others find that kind of activity boring. The key to sticking with exercise is to make it interesting and enjoyable. Be creative. Do things you enjoy but pick up the pace. Do all four types of exercise — endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The variety helps keep things interesting! Try some new activities to keep your interest alive.
2. Find ways to fit exercise into your day
You are more likely to exercise if it’s a convenient part of your day. Try exercising first thing in the morning. Combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of your day, such as walking the dog or doing household chores. If you don’t have 30 minutes to be active, look for three 10-minute periods. As you progress, add more 10-minute sessions until you hit your goal!
3. Make exercise a social activity
Many people agree that an “exercise buddy” keeps them going.
- Take a walk during lunch with coworkers.
- Try a dance class — salsa, tango, square dancing — it’s up to you.
- Use family gatherings as a time to play team sports or do outdoor activities.
4. Keep track of your exercise progress
The best way to stay motivated is to measure and celebrate your successes:
- Make an exercise and physical activity plan that works for you and track your daily physical activity. (PDF, 345K)
- Find new ways to increase your physical activity.
- Keep track of your monthly progress to see improvement. (PDF, 675K)
- Update your exercise plan as you progress.
Tips for coping with breaks in your exercise routine
It is normal to have life events and changes get in the way of staying active. However, there are ways to get yourself back on track. Remember, to get the most out of exercise and physical activity, they need to be a regular part of your life.
|A change in your situation||You're on vacation:
||Your usual exercise buddy moves away:
|A change in your health||The flu keeps you out of action for a few weeks:
||You are recovering from hip or back surgery:
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This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.
Content reviewed: April 03, 2020