Staying Motivated to Exercise: Tips for Older Adults

Physical activity is important for people of all ages, but it can be particularly beneficial for older adults. Regular exercise can help prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis, and can also improve mental health and cognitive function. However, staying motivated to exercise can be challenging, especially for older adults. Here are some tips to help older adults stay motivated and make exercise a regular part of their routine.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is key to staying motivated. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Start by setting small goals and gradually increasing them as you become more comfortable with exercise. For example, a goal could be to walk for 10 minutes every day, and then gradually increase the time or distance.

Find an Exercise Buddy

Having an exercise buddy can be a great way to stay motivated and accountable. It can also make exercise more fun and social. Consider joining a local exercise group, asking a friend to join you for walks, or finding a virtual exercise buddy through online communities.

Choose Activities You Enjoy

Choosing activities that you enjoy can make exercise feel less like a chore and more like a fun activity. This can also help you stick with it long-term. Consider trying out different types of exercise until you find something that you enjoy, such as swimming, dancing, or yoga.

Make Exercise a Habit

Making exercise a regular part of your routine can help you stay motivated and make it feel like a natural part of your day. Try scheduling exercise at the same time every day, or incorporating it into other daily activities, such as walking to the store instead of driving.

Get Creative with Your Environment

You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment to exercise. Get creative with your environment and use household items such as water bottles as weights or use a sturdy chair for balance exercises. You can also try incorporating exercise into everyday activities, such as doing squats while brushing your teeth or calf raises while waiting for the kettle to boil.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress can help you see the benefits of exercise and stay motivated. Use a tracking tool such as a pedometer, fitness app, or journal to keep track of your physical activity levels and set goals for improvement.


Staying motivated to exercise can be challenging, especially for older adults. However, setting realistic goals, finding an exercise buddy, choosing activities you enjoy, making exercise a habit, getting creative with your environment, and tracking your progress can all help. With regular exercise, older adults can improve their physical and mental health and enjoy a better quality of life.


  1. What types of exercise are best for older adults? Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga are generally safe and effective for older adults. However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program.
  2. How often should older adults exercise? The American Heart Association recommends that older adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, in addition to muscle-strengthening activities at least two days per week.
  3. What if I have a chronic condition or injury that makes exercise difficult? It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have a chronic condition or injury. They can provide guidance on safe exercises and modifications to accommodate your needs.
  4. Can exercise help with cognitive function and memory? Yes, research suggests that regular exercise can improve cognitive function and memory in older adults.

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