According to the CDC, over 35% of adults in the United States age 60 or older are obese. This number is sadly expected to rise even more as the Baby Boomer generation become senior citizens, too.
One problem is that our metabolisms start to slow down as we grow older, due to the fact that while our body fat increases, our muscle mass decreases. This can start as early as our 20s. Plus, when you exercise in your 50s, 60s and 70s you don’t burn as many calories as you did during your younger years. However, major weight gain is certainly not a normal part of the aging process, and if you aren’t observing healthy weight management, you could be putting your health at risk.
Maintaining a healthy weight is vital to healthy aging. Proper weight management should be a lifelong goal and as you age, you should be following the same healthy lifestyle as you did in your younger years.
Senior Weight Management Tips
Studies have shown that it’s important for seniors who are attempting to lose weight to not only eat a healthy diet, but to exercise regularly, too. Exercise will burn calories, as well as help build and maintain muscle. The types of exercise health experts recommend for seniors are:
- Aerobic exercise. Getting your heart rate up through aerobic exercises like walking, biking, swimming or low-impact aerobics can improve cardiovascular function, quality of sleep, and enhance your immune system on top of helping you lose extra pounds.
- Strength and/or resistance training. Help preserve lean muscle and bone density or even regain lost muscle by utilizing light weights, resistance bands or medicine balls. Start with lower repetitions and work your way up.
- Stretching and flexibility exercises. Flexibility decreases as you age, so stretching is an important step in your workout as it helps warm up and cool down your muscles.
Seniors should try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. If you’re just starting out with an exercise regimen, you can break your activities up into ten minute segments.
Along with regular exercise, obviously the next step is to adjust your eating habits. First, know how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis. Your doctor can help you with this, but as an example, women over age 50 who are moderately active need about 1,600 to 1,800 calories per day. Your needs can vary based on several factors, like physical activity, current muscle mass, and even genetics. Cutting back calories will help you lose weight, but you want to avoid cutting out too many to avoid getting fatigued and even slowing down your metabolism further.
Changing the types of food you eat is important, too. Choosing healthy foods like fruits and veggies over sugary or salty snacks, whole grains over white flour, getting adequate calcium and incorporating lean proteins will give you more energy and help you stay healthy. Also, make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. As you age, your sense of thirst can diminish and make it difficult for you to remember to get the proper intake of water to avoid dehydration.
When you begin your healthy weight management routine, remember that the main goal is to get and stay fit, not necessarily to drop a major amount of weight all at once.