GUEST ARTICLE- Healthy Weight Loss Tips for Seniors
Healthy Weight-Loss Tips For Seniors
Article by Jason Lewis
Photo via Pxhere.
Losing weight as a senior is not much different from losing weight at any other point in your life. You need to burn more energy than you consume, eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables, and avoid sugary foods. However, you may be worried that you now need to contend with a slower metabolism and a changing body. Understanding what these changes actually mean is the key to achieving healthy weight loss as a senior.
Understand Your Metabolism
Your metabolism is the set of systems your body has in place to transform the food you eat into energy. It is not a specific function, but rather a complex combination of factors related to exercise, hormones, and muscle mass, to name a few. The faster your metabolism, the more calories your body burns, both during exercise and when you are resting.
The word gets thrown around a lot by people warning of the dangers of increased weight loss with age. The truth is that, unfortunately, your metabolism does slow down as you grow older, and a slower metabolism means you are burning fewer calories. However, the idea of metabolism being an immutable, unchangeable force is misguided. You can improve your metabolism with a few lifestyle changes, even as a senior.
For starters, metabolism may not even be to blame. According to Business Insider, though metabolism gets a bad rap, most people gain weight as they get older because their lifestyle becomes more sedentary. Metabolism is a factor, but it is not the all-encompassing threat that you may think it is.
The amount of daily exercise in your life is far more important. Start by incorporating physical activity into your daily routine in smaller, easier ways, such as going for a walk with your partner or a friend every day. Even just a 15-minute walk around the block or to the grocery store can help, particularly if you practice brisk walking, which increases your heart rate. The aim is to be slightly out of breath, but still be able to comfortably hold a conversation.
If you are ready to kick it up a notch, consider signing up for an exercise class. There are classes to suit every age and ability, including many tailored specifically to seniors. However, don’t feel like you have to sign up for something “low-impact” like water aerobics or tai chi. If you think you can handle something more intense, go for it!
Build Muscle Mass
Muscle mass plays a key part in your metabolism. Simply put, the more muscle you have, the more energy your body needs to keep going, and the more energy you burn at rest. The problem is that skeletal muscle mass tends to decrease with age, a phenomenon known as sarcopenia.
This is why strength workouts are a great way to improve weight loss and boost your metabolism. Go4Life, an initiative from the National Institute on Aging, recommends doing 30-minute sets targeting all your major muscles twice a week. They also show various easy strength exercises you can do at home.
Indeed, while joining a gym is always an option (the average gym membership is $40 - $50 a month), many seniors prefer to do their strength workouts from the comfort of their own living room. A basic home gym doesn’t have to be particularly expensive or take up lots of room. All you need for most strength workouts is a set of dumbells and a resistance band, and a yoga mat is also useful for stretches and floor exercises. If your budget allows for it, you can also invest in a new floor and ceiling fan for your home gym. Just realize that you’ll typically pay $125 to $512 to hire a handyman to complete the job in the Milwaukee area.
Though much is said about how seniors need things like iron, fiber, and calcium, the basics of good nutrition are the same for everyone. You need to balance carbs, fats, and protein, reduce sugar intake, and eat more fruit, vegetables, and legumes.
The best way to know what specific changes you need to make to you diet is to ask your doctor. They will be able to point you toward the foods your body needs more of, and will let you know what you need to cut down on.
You are never too old, too overweight, or too unfit to start working toward a healthier body. Your metabolism isn’t plotting against you, and your body doesn’t have to be stuck this way for the rest of your life. You can lose weight over 60 in the same way you can at any other age, and that is through the combination of an active lifestyle and a nutritionally balanced diet. This simple truth can seem discouraging at first (there is no secret trick), but in reality, it is empowering: weight loss is fully within your control, and is completely achievable if you put your mind to it.