Senior Weight Management

Senior Weight Management

How to Maintain a Safe and Healthy Weight if You’re a Senior

All ages struggle with their weight, but maintenance and loss can be more difficult for seniors due to mobility and health issues. Even so, that’s not an excuse to throw in the gym towel. The elderly make-up approximately 38.5 percent of obese Americans in the United States, closely following middle-aged adults at 41 percent. Along with maintaining a healthy weight, a modified (and monitored) diet and exercise program can significantly improve the mental and physical well-being of senior citizens by increasing mobility, improving cognitive ability, and contributing to a longer lifespan. The key to success is instituting a plan geared toward seniors as there are metabolic and muscular changes to take into account.

Boost Your Metabolism

Many people tend to blame their metabolism for weight gain, which can be partially true. After the age of 20, daily energy expenditure decreases approximately 150 calories per decade, so it’s obvious what that does to someone in their 60s and beyond. Here are a few key things seniors can do to get a metabolic boost:

  • Don’t skip meals: Foregoing breakfast isn’t going to help you shed weight any faster. In fact, it will decrease your metabolism even further. Aim for four to six small meals in lieu of three larger ones to keep your engine revved up.
  • Eat quality food: At this juncture in your life, you’re probably well-aware of what it means to eat a balanced diet. But along with specific dietary needs due to a potential health condition, all seniors should be consuming a good amount of protein. Along with a decrease in muscle mass, elderly adults experience a decrease in body protein, to include organ tissue, blood components, and immune bodies. Not only do these changes contribute to a reduction in metabolism, but they also contribute to loss of skin elasticity, inability to ward off infection, and hindered wound healing. While the current RDA for is .08 grams of protein per pound of body weight, recent research suggests that 1.5 grams can improve health.
  • Drink plenty of water: Dehydration is another metabolism reducer so drink plenty of water throughout the day to flush toxins and reduce water tension.

Commit to Exercise With a Home Gym

You already know that with age comes decreased muscle mass, which is why it’s important to incorporate weight training with your protein-rich diet so you can build lean muscle. Consistent dedication can help with weight maintenance, mobility, strength, and posture. It’s important to couple resistance training with some form of light cardio such as power walking and swimming to maintain cardiovascular health while keeping weight in check. Stretching and meditative exercises like yoga are also helpful for flexibility and mental health.

In an effort to commit to regular workouts, set up a home gym with basic equipment like dumbells in varied weights, resistance bands, and a yoga mat. These items are easy to use and won’t require a large financial investment—especially if you look for used equipment online. If you’re not sure where to start or prefer structure, pop in a workout DVD. Those who are more tech savvy can download a myriad of apps (even geared toward seniors) that offer routines that suit all levels of fitness.

Make sure you talk to your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. Individuals with cancer (or recently completed treatment), kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, and lung and heart disease should be prepared to have a thorough conversation with a professional about their health history to avoid any complications. Don’t neglect to mention if you’ve ever experienced swelling, dizziness, fainting, or any form of abnormal pain during exercise as it can be a symptom that something else is wrong.

Article By: Julia Merrill

Photo Credit: Pixabay