Staying physically fit is an essential part of maintaining an active aging lifestyle. Getting motivated to exercise can be challenging – especially when social distancing prevents us from gathering in a gym or shared space. Sometimes all you need to get moving is a nudge from a willing partner. After all, working out with a friend, family member, or in a group holds you accountable, is more fun than going it alone, and usually pushes you to set and reach new fitness goals!

Thanks to technology, doing virtual workouts with others is easier than you think. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before launching any new exercise routines. Here are some ideas to help you get started.

Attend Virtual Workout Sessions

Unfortunately, pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, self-quarantines, and social distancing guidelines forced many brick-and-mortar fitness facilities to close. As a result, the multimillion-dollar online fitness market surged and is going strong.

Virtual fitness platforms like Peloton and Obé offer almost endless training session options with groups. In both cases, you and your friend(s) choose an online workout class to take together, schedule a day and start time, show up, and start moving! Peloton sessions require equipment, with some rides offering video chats you can do with others. With Obé, you can schedule online workout “parties” with up to seven friends – as a member or during a free trial.

Host DIY Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or Facetime Workouts

If you’re a little shy about exercising virtually with strangers, hosting regular workout sessions on Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Facetime with family and friends can be casual and fun.

To make the routines interactive, rotate session leaders, have each new leader submit a list of exercises, reps, and suggested workout playlists before their designated class time. As with any routine, you can start with short sessions – like 10 minutes twice a week. If schedules allow, you can aim for 30-minute workouts, three to five times a week.

Furthermore, setting goals gives your group something to work toward. For example, each week, try to increase reps by increments of five. Or increase each session length by five or 10 minutes every two weeks.

Photo: vgajic via

Share Progress with Fitness Apps

Hundreds of fitness apps are free for iPhone and Android platforms. To workout with a buddy, find a compatible app for your devices, and find fun exercises together! Sworkit, for example, allows you to share your activities and track progress with a partner or a group. Just start a video chat on Zoom or Google Hangouts and follow these sharing instructions. Older adults can find workouts tailored for actively aging participants like FitOn, which also features sessions with celebrity trainers.

Kendra Johnson, a health coach at The Health Plan, says fitness apps are a great way to get connected with friends while forming healthy habits.

“I personally use my Apple watch daily to track my workouts and I always share my activity with my other Apple Watch-wearing friends,” Johnson said. “I get notifications when they finish a workout or when they accomplish a goal, which gives me motivation to do the same – even when I don’t feel like exercising or being physically active.”

Set Mutual Goals and Complete Regular Challenges

Exercising together can be as simple as plotting out some mutual fitness goals, mixing up your routines to keep activities fresh, and throwing in a weekly or monthly challenge. For example, walk on Wednesdays and do weightlifting on Fridays. Track and share your progress in a smartphone note, an Excel or Google sheet, text, or email that you exchange with one or more workout partners daily, weekly, or monthly.

Overall, the most important thing is to start a doctor-approved exercise plan, stick with it, and boost each other up via phone, text, or video chat until you can safely work out together in the same space once again!

Active Aging is presented by The Health Plan. Established as a community health organization, The Health Plan delivers a clinically-driven, technology-enhanced, customer-focused platform by developing and implementing products and services that manage and improve the health and well-being of our members. We achieve these results through a team of healthcare professionals and partners across our community.