Middle-age creep isn’t the jerk in a trench coat leaning over your shoulder with a camera phone. It’s the added spare tire, usually caused by stress, that refuses to budge no matter how much we diet or exercise. Some are calling the 15-pound pandemic weight gain during self-isolation, “quarantine 15.” Chances are the places where you’ve been working out are closed during the quarantine, and you’re trying to figure out other ways to exercise without a gym.

At first thought, it might seem pretty easy. Do a few squats, walk or run around your neighborhood or do a pushup challenge. But if you’re like many sequestered enthusiasts, the concept of working out at home, just like the idea of remote working, can be quite daunting with no clue where to begin. I started out walking up and down my driveway for 20 minutes each day. When I reach the bottom, I do six squats, and when I reach the top, I do six pushups, though like many over 50, I wanted more variety, although there’s not much out there for my age group.

Exercise And Aging Stereotypes

Society is full of inaccurate and dis-empowering myths about the aging process, and these false beliefs cause incredible amounts of unnecessary fear, anxiety and uncertainty about “getting older.” Plus, the current philosophies and practices of the mainstream fitness industry are outdated, not to mention primarily focused on the younger generations. The other sad truth is that 40% of Americans prefer lying on their duff to exercising. Even 80-year-old comedian Joan Rivers teased, “I don’t exercise. If God had wanted me to bend over, He would have put diamonds on the floor.”

Funny, yes. But what’s not so funny is that long stretches of sitting without enough exercise endanger your heart and cells of your body. Studies show that being a couch potato is as bad or worse than smoking and actually cuts your life expectancy. According to the National Cancer Society, women who sat more than six hours per day were 34% more likely to die than those who were more active. The same figure for men was 18%. On the flip side, researchers have found that a year of exercise gives a 70-year-old the brain connectivity of a 30-year-old, improving memory and the ability to plan, deal with ambiguity and multitask. Scientists also find that adults ages 50 to 80 who spend a year in regular aerobic exercise increase the size of their brains in the hippocampus—the area responsible for short-term memory and spatial navigation.

Tips To Consider

If you’re 50 or older and thinking about starting an at-home workout regimen, Marni Jennejahn, a Wellness and Fitness Coach at High Performance Aging in Asheville, North Carolina, shared 5 tips you should consider to help you begin.

1. Assess Your Health

No matter if you went to the gym regularly or you’ve never exercised before, it’s important to know where your health stands before starting or resuming a workout. Your health changes all the time, so you need to be sure that you’re healthy enough to start exercising again. A quick visit to your doctor for a routine physical can help assess if you’re healthy enough to start exercising. Once you’re cleared, it’s time to get down to business.

2. Set Your Goals

Whether you want to lose weight or get stronger, you need to set goals before starting out. Having a clear goal set ahead of time can make it easier for you to develop a plan to accomplish your goals. Make sure they are realistic and measurable, so you can track your progress along the way. Don’t go from low-energy activities like watching TV to high-energy activities like kickboxing in the blink of an eye. Moving too fast can lead to injury and self-defeat. Start small and build up your fitness gradually, and you’re more likely to stick it out.

3. Fix Your Nutrition

If your diet isn’t the best, then you want to take the time to get your nutrition on the right path if you want to see results. Having a solid nutrition plan can enable you to reach your goals faster. If your current diet needs work, start by making small changes, and gradually add in more as time goes on. Eating healthy takes time and dedication. But if you can change your diet, it will make reaching your goals easier.

4. Find An Exercise Buddy

There’s a good chance you’re going to lose motivation along the way. After all, if you stop seeing results, it can be a deterrent to working out. Companionship during exercise is a powerful incentive to keep you motivated. This is why you should workout with someone, or hire a coach to keep you motivated. Not only can they provide tips and tricks for staying motivated, they will also hold you accountable each session. You can’t lose motivation when you’re being pushed by someone else.

5. Drink Plenty of Water

When you exercise, you sweat. And when you sweat, you could lose electrolytes and water, which could leave you dehydrated. When working out, you need to be sure you’re drinking enough water to prevent dehydration from creeping in. How much is acceptable? The general rule of thumb is half your body weight in ounces. And if you’re working out, it should be more.

If you’re just starting out, or you’re resuming a workout from home or back at the gym be sure to follow these 5 tips. Not only will you make smarter decisions on how to approach your workout, these tips may also keep you moving forward—instead of falling backwards.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to Forbes.com, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: https://bryanrobinsonphd.com.