6 Reasons Older Adults Hate to Work Out — and What To Do About It – BoomerMuscle
October 26, 2016

6 Reasons Older Adults Hate to Work Out — and What To Do About It

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Here’s my list:

  1. Intimidation
  2. Fear of Failure.
  3. Your aching weak spots
  4. Lack of motivation
  5. Scheduling is difficult in your life.
  6. Lack of Passion

Let’s break each of these down one-by-one…


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This is one reason some people never even try. If you’re at a gym, most others there will respect the fact that you’re just starting out. They’ve walked in your shoes. Every journey starts with that first step. You’ll even find people who are friendly enough to engage with you at times and give you encouragement.

But you’re not having it. The voice in your head is certain other people in the gym are judging you, and you’re overwhelmed by the daunting concept of transforming your flabby Boomer body.

Plus, we’re now experiencing aged-related muscle loss — the muscle atrophy caused by a condition called sarcopenia. Older men and women can reverse this condition and build muscle.

Keep in mind, you’re the one doing all the negative talking to yourself, not the other people. If you’re in a gym and that is not the prevailing spirit, get out of there and join another.

If you’re at home alone, it can be more of a challenge because it’s all you VS. you. We are our own worst enemies. The negative self-talk we heap on ourselves at times can be overwhelming.

I work out at home, usually by myself. I’m almost always accompanied by a little devil that sits on my shoulder and fills my head with crappy thoughts. He’s always trying to talk me out of doing the workout. After more than 40 years, he still keeps trying. The only way I know how to beat him — is to just do it.

I follow a ritual each time that leads to my first rep: 

  1.  I turn on some music.  
  2.  Pop some bubble gum in mouth.
  3.  I put my gloves on.  
  4. I stretch for a bit.  
  5.  I load the weight and go.

Try defining a simple ritual and follow it to start that first rep. Then do another rep. And another set. One foot in front of the other… Eventually, the endorphins will kick in and you’ll be proud of yourself for beating that little devil one more time.


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When it comes to working out, there are lots of little ways we sabotage ourselves that feels like failure. You have to remember, we are not trying to become perfect here, just better versions of ourselves.

So, you glance in a mirror and realize you’re not built like a movie star. Do NOT let that get to you. It’s sooo easy to do. After all these years, I catch myself doing it all the time. “Geez, this is pointless. Why am I bothering?”

And by the way, that term “failure,” you’ll hear me talk about it a lot in another context all together. The idea of keeping tension on a targeted muscle until it “fails.” We’ll go into that in depth, but just so you know, some types of failure are good.

You have to stay positive within yourself. Don’t judge yourself against some “perfect” and unattainable ideal. Visualize your goals in practical increments. Be better to yourself. We need to be our own best coaches and cheerleaders. You aren’t going to walk into the gym one day and walk out completely transformed the next. Improvement comes a little bit at a time.

The fact that you’re in the gym and working out should be applauded – even by a tough self-critic like you.


We’re all over 40 here. Heck, I’m 0ver 60.We simply can’t train like we’re 25 year old ninjas. We are grandparents for gosh sakes. Don’t press weak areas of your body that are vulnerable to injury. It’s not worth it and invariably, there’s another way that can benefit the targeted muscle group without aggravating a sensitive joint.

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Achilles had his heel, everybody has weak spots.

That’s not to say you should ignore weak muscle groups or fail to push yourself. We just need to be careful and pay attention to our weak spots. In my case, these are my shoulder joints and what’s left of my right knee. I have to design my workouts around those weak spots. We can design workouts that work around our sore places.

You need to do that, too. The main lesson here: NO PAIN for any reason. Straining a muscle in a controlled manner can be ok and going to muscle failure is right on, but pain, especially to joints, tendons, ligaments and cartilage is no good for any reason.

We’re not here to punish ourselves. Believe it or not. working out can feel good. Even sensual. I’ll talk more as we go on about achieving a Mind/Muscle Connection and how the actual experience of working can be positive and rewarding. Here’s one thought: Resistance training has been proven to be an excellent method for releasing endorphins, a natural drug-like effect our body produces under stress. The other best way to produce them? Orgasm. Yeah, a good workout can be a wonderful feeling!


You don’t believe it’s really going to make that much of a difference and it’s natural to grow frail and weak as you age, so why bother with all this?

Boy, somebody got up on the wrong side of the bed. This one also ties to that little Devil who lives on our shoulders and talks trash to our heads.

Resistance training will make a big difference in your body and your life. It’s a gradual process, though, so you need to stay motivated and keep a regular schedule. The key is just doing it. Some days are going to be better than others. They all add up.devils

Take that first step, no matter how much trash that little devil on your shoulder is talking. Follow your ritual and begin your workout. Get that first rep out-of-the-way. Power through the negative self-talk until the endorphins start to kick in and remind you how good this feels.

Later, revisit your goals. Make sure they’re realistic over time. No overnight transformations here. Remind yourself why we’re doing this in the first place — for quality of life as we age and to defeat the muscle-wasting effect of aging on our bodies. We’re doing this to be healthy, feel good, and remain better able to do daily tasks with ease.

As we grow older, this will pay even bigger dividends that enable us to stay free and independent longer. You are definitely a worthwhile cause.


Some people are disciplined warriors. My wife gets up at 4 am so she can train in the gym before work. I can’t remember my own name at 4 in the morning. She trains with other people who are like her, but I gotta believe they are in the minority of the general population when it comes to disciplined schedules.

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Generally, people are juggling lots of things in their lives, especially if they are working 9 – 5.  Those who are 40-some-things may have kids in the mix on top of work and other things. So how do you manage to fit a workout into your flow?

  1. Establish a routine time of day and reserve that time for you. You only need roughly 30-40 minutes. 3 – 4 days per week. C’mon, that’s not a lot! So maybe it’s directly after work. Or in the early evening. Or, if you’re a crazy warrior, early in the morning. But try to find a spot that you can own for this. It’s important for you. You deserve the time.
  2. If that’s not feasible, you can develop strategies that give you flexibility. If you have the means to purchase some equipment for the home, that gives you an option that doesn’t require getting in the car and driving. Today, with the new Resistance Band systems, you can get a reasonable equivalent to a home gym system for under $50. So, even if you maintain a gym membership, you give yourself a backup plan at home for those days that get away from you.

6. Lack of Passion

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A study by Concordia University in Montreal found something interesting about our generation. We need passion in what we’re doing to stay with it, and we’ve somehow come to view working out as tedium and drudgery. You’re just not going to do something that perceive in a negative light.

Sounds right, eh? It does to me.

We need to flip the script.

Maybe it was something in the way our gym teachers and coaches approached working out. I played football way back when and I know those coaches were crazy sadists. They really seemed to enjoy watching us exercise till we puked or nearly collapsed.

Here’s an excerpt from the article by Concordia. I think they’re on to something when it comes to flipping this script and looking at it in a positive mindset — with passion not dread. It all comes back to how we approach the idea of working out. Dread? Or a sensual, nearly orgasmic experience, that we provide ourselves? (Remember, a good workout releases Endorphins, nature’s feel-good hormone.)

“As the first generation to embrace exercise, baby boomers continue going to the gym, yet more out of necessity than for the challenge and enjoyment of physical activity.

In a study recently published in the International Journal of Wellbeing, James Gavin, a professor in Concordia’s Department of Applied Human Sciences, investigates our motivations for exercise, from looking good to having fun. He finds that for the baby boom generation, passion is the most important motivator — a fact the fitness industry should embrace.

He says that once we connect with our passion, motivation can flow backward to sustain participation in cross-training activities: for instance a person will be keener to put in time on the treadmill if she knows it will help her have more fun skiing in winter.

Gavin’s study surveyed 1,885 participants at YMCA facilities across Montreal and examined responses by age-group –breaking answers down by decade, from the teens to 50 and over. Of four major motivation categories, “toned and fit” was the top motivator in all age groups, followed by”stress reduction.”

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Yet perhaps more unexpectedly for a generation who came of age in the era when exercise became a way of life, the two final categories, “mental toughness” (defined as embracing activity for its adventure and challenge) and “fun and friends” (social motivations), both declined with increasing age.

Gavin says he’s surprised by the findings, but less so when he surveys the scene at his local gym. “Exercise is often perceived as a necessary evil. When I go to a gym and look around, I don’t see a lot of excitement or laughter –” people are putting in their time almost as prisoners on their solitary workout stations. They’re working away, and relieved when it’s over.”

Thanks for stopping by!

What are other reasons in your mind? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or write to me at: Bri@BoomerMuscle.com


Brian Patterson

I've been resistance training for nearly 50 years. As a younger man, I used to believe in using ever-increasing amounts of weight. Until one day in my mid-50's, my aching joints could not take the punishment any more. I had to develop a new way of working out that was effective, but free of pain. I found it. It works great. I'd like to share it with you.