Written by Jordan McElwain — Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Getting in shape and losing weight are common New Year’s resolutions at any age, and according to our recent report, 57% of older adults (age 65+) have a goal to improve their fitness in 2023. But not all of us love to spend time at the gym, on a treadmill, or doing traditional “workouts.” So, for those of us who dread gym days or for those days you just don’t want strenuous activity, we’re happy to share some creative ways to get exercise without feeling like you’re working out.
From golf to pickleball, there are plenty of sports that can easily provide just as much social activity as they do physical activity. Meeting up with friends can make exercise feel fun rather than like work. The social aspect of shooting hoops or playing badminton can also have a positive impact on your relationships and mental health, making them a great option for those hoping to improve their fitness and rekindle friendships (or even meet new friends).
Gardening is an incredibly rewarding hobby because not only does it help you get some exercise from digging, pulling weeds, walking, and squatting, but it also provides you with gorgeous flowers and/or produce. If you spend a lot of time in your garden, you may want to consider installing raised beds to reduce the strain on your back. Getting in some daily stretching exercises can also help keep you limber and prevent back tension.
While walking is a common workout, it doesn’t have to feel like one. In fact, many people have already turned to walking because they find it more relaxing than more strenuous activities, like running. If you’ve tried walking before and didn’t love it, consider ways to make it feel more fun, like:
Listening to an audiobook or podcast while walking
Catching up with a friend or family member over the phone while walking
Walking with a friend or dog
Walking while window shopping at the mall
Walking around museums, historic sites or other places with nice scenery
Before TV, listening to the radio, playing games, and dancing were common evening activities. Consider dancing around your living room to some groovy music to get some exercise and release some stress. If you prefer a little structure, take a tap class or other dance class to learn new skills and get your exercise. You can take these classes in person at a local studio or via a program online—whichever works best for you!
A recent study found that more and more of the 50+ crowd is finding joy, stress relief, and social connection through video games. While many video games are played while sitting, there are plenty of games out there that encourage people to get moving! Popular movement-based games include a variety of boxing and sports games, Just Dance, Dance Revolution, and Pokemon Go. You can play these games alone or with friends or your grandchildren to maximize your fun.
Playing with grandchildren is a lot of fun, and keeping up with them can take a lot of energy! Don’t overdo it, but look for ways that you can get a little activity in while doing something your grandchildren love. Playing catch, making a fort, having a dance party, bowling, or going to the park are all great ways to get moving while having fun with grandkids.
While some people dread cleaning more than working out, it has to be done! It can also help you relieve stress while providing a little movement. If you’re a fast cleaner, you may even work up a sweat. Once a week, consider using cleaning or yard work to get your daily exercise in.
Getting exercise doesn’t always have to involve a traditional workout, and if you truly hate working out, you may find it easier to get consistent exercise with more fun activities. Of course, mixing in some traditional workouts here and there can help as well. If you’re looking for inspiration, explore these low-impact exercises for seniors and beginners.