Weight Loss Tips For Seniors
I don’t know about you, but we are all headed there! Some may ask, “headed where?” We are all headed to “old-age-ville.” When my time comes, I don’t want to fall asleep while in a deep conversation with someone, nor do I want to “pee” in my pants and have to wear diapers. Nowadays, I hear older people talking about things they look forward in doing because they are old and retired. They talk about getting things like senior citizen’s discounts; 10% off at local restaurants, hotel rooms, activities, or maybe a cup of free coffee at McDonald’s. I’ve heard seniors talk about taking care of their grandkids since they are retired. But when I get old, I don’t want to take care of my grandkids because I’ll be too old to chase them around.
For me, becoming a senior citizen is about getting old and having less activity, gaining more weight, and losing one’s memory. Not to mention, not getting enough activity so I may get fat and become overweight. But as we age (I’m getting there soon), we need to be more concerned with our health. We need to watch what we eat and our weight. Becoming overweight and having a lot of belly fat are tremendous burdens we may all have to face as we age. Because of this, I want to go over some “weight loss tips for seniors” that will help them as well as us, as we get older.
A Few Facts About Obesity and It’s Impact
Obesity is a major epidemic in the United States and in other countries around the world. About 1/3 of all adults in the United States are obese and are at risk for serious health complications such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, which can lead to premature death. Not only does obesity effect 1/3 of the adult population, but it also has a major economic impact in the United States. In 2010, the health costs of obesity and it’s related problems cost us, taxpayers, nearly $190 billion and it continues to rise each year.
But most of all, our seniors have to be careful about obesity. Seniors and the aging population need to address healthy weight management and should be aware of how weight gain can cause major problems for their health. Seniors should be more aware that they are more vulnerable because as we age, our metabolism tends to slow down and gaining more weight becomes that much more of an issue.
Problems As We Age
Loss Of Lean Muscle Mass
It’s funny to me when I watched my son when he was a teenager eat his meals. When we ate, he would woof down his food like it was his last breath of fresh air. He would gobble down his food and not gain an ounce. Apparently, a lot of this was due to his metabolic rate being so high in his younger years. As a matter of fact, he is still skinny and his metabolism is still high.
Some of you probably didn’t know that as we age, our metabolism starts to slow down?
Genetics plays an important role in our overall metabolic performance. If we are blessed with sufficient amounts of lean muscle mass, this will greatly determine our rate of metabolism because muscle burns more calories per hour than fat. And this is why people with lean or muscle bodies burn more fat and stay this way.
As we grow older, our overall muscle mass decreases and this slows our rate of metabolism by 2% to 8% each decade. But this can be reversed by performing simple strength training exercises with the use of free weights or weight machines. In reality, strength training should take place early in life, but if not, it should definitely be undertaken as we head into our 40s and 50s. At these age ranges, we need to maintain as much lean muscle mass as possible because our metabolism is not likely to decrease as much as you age.
Due to a lack of activity, seniors are more likely to gain weight because their metabolism slows down. This can lead to obesity and serious health problems.
The number one cause for seniors gaining weight is their lack of activity. Even when seniors eat what they have their entire lives and never gained weight before, this decrease in metabolism will allow them to gain weight. As our metabolism decreases so do our bodies’ ability to burn calories. As we age and we keep eating the same amount of food, our bodies will start to turn the excess calories into fat. And the more weight we gain, the less active we become. This process, in turn, may cause a person to become obese.
Weight Management For Seniors
As we age, we need to find a solution to losing weight so that it will not turn into obesity. By combining diet with a good exercise program, we can reverse and prevent obesity. A good diet will cut the number of calories we are taking in, while our exercise program will help us burn off the calories that we eat. Each one of these programs (diet, exercise) will get rid of some excess calories we take in, but by combining them both, we will get rid of a significant amount of calories.
We need to find a balance between diet and exercise to get rid of unwanted weight and permanently keep it off (The basic formula for weight loss is “calories in and calories out” or burn more than you take in).
Dieting For Seniors
As we grow older, we can lose weight by changing what we eat. With age, our bodies start secreting less digestive enzymes which change how our bodies breakdown and absorb nutrients. Some good and healthy weight loss tips for seniors include:
- Be sure to avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat. (fat contains more calories and can lead to high LDL (bad) cholesterol).
- When eating, eat small portions of food more often. Our bodies only need 300 – 400 calories at one sitting and any more than that will turn into fat. By eating smaller portions, this will help us lose weight.
- Eat more plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Our bodies need these vitamins and minerals and our bodies make them quality calorie foods.
- When trying to lose weight, eat more fiber. Fiber is more filling and low in calories and will make you less hunger. Fiber also aids in digestion. (fruit: raspberries, bananas, apples, oranges, strawberries, mangoes — vegetables: sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, lima beans, lentils, green peas, collard greens, broccoli, carrots, spinach, acorn squash, and too many more to list).
- While dieting, always drink plenty of water. When we go on a diet, many times we mistake hunger for being thirsty so we should drink as much water as possible to rid us of hunger pains. (When drinking water, always drink water with ice. Our bodies burn from 25 to 40 calories per glass of ice water. It takes energy for the body to consume the glass of water).
Exercise For Seniors
Exercise can help you to lose weight by increasing your muscle mass and speeding up your metabolism. Exercise has many other practical benefits to being active besides weight loss and building muscle mass. Some of these include increased stamina, endurance, balance, vitality, agility, and longevity. These benefits are helpful in the senior years because as we grow older we want to live a more active lifestyle.
But by far the best exercises for seniors which can help them lose weight are aerobic exercises and resistance training.
Aerobic Exercise For Seniors
Aerobic exercises benefit our heart and cardiovascular system. When we do aerobic exercises, these exercises cause our heart to beat faster and in return, it causes our body to burn more calories. The longer we keep our heart rate up, the more calories we burn. Aerobic exercises are the best exercises to perform because it strengthens our heart and this increases blood flow through the entire body. This increased blood flow provides the body with huge amounts of nutrients and energy, which in turn, causes our body to burn more calories while working out and while we rest.
To burn more calories and lose weight while building lean muscle, it is recommended that seniors perform at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercises each day and at least 3 days per week. Aerobic exercises include: riding a bike, jogging, walking, elliptical trainers, various fitness classes, and many more.
Resistance Training For Seniors
Building muscle mass is a primary objective for seniors. The best way to building muscle mass is resistance training. Resistance training targets the muscles directly. It is used mainly for building muscle mass and it has a much longer effect on burning calories than aerobics does. When we increase our muscle mass, we are also increasing our bodies’ metabolism. Resistance training helps our bodies to burn more calories all the time, and not just during a particular workout.
Our resistance training should consist of 8 to 10 different exercises with each exercise consisting of 8 to 12 repetitions. (Do not strain your muscles because you could damage them and only work them until they are fatigued).
In conclusion, seniors should be aware that obesity is a serious problem as we get older. It can cause other related problems that can be detrimental to our health such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems, and many other medical issues that can lead to premature death. As seniors, we need to be aware of these problems and avoid foods that cause weight gain and cause a lack of activity.
These simple tips for healthy weight management and exercise will allow any senior to live a more productive lifestyle if they are implemented. It will give them an incredible overall health boost and can be followed at any age, but especially in our senior years.
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