Managing Your Weight as You Age
As people age, metabolisms begin to slow down and less calories are needed than in our younger years. Actually, the slowing of our metabolism can begin as early as when we are in our 20s or 30s! A sluggish metabolism makes it more difficult for us to maintain a healthy weight, and that difficulty can increase with each passing year.
For seniors, managing weight can be challenging due to some of the other issues that come along with aging. For instance, chronic conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis may limit mobility and make you lose some of your muscle tone, which makes it hard to maintain right amount of daily physical activity. Or, hormonal changes result in the redistribution of weight and cause muscle loss, too. Some of the medications you take on a regular basis may affect your balance and your appetite. However, it’s important to keep your weight within a healthy range to avoid health complications in the future.
Weight Management Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle
Many seniors can still impact their overall health by working toward a healthy weight. Making small changes to your lifestyle can lead you on the right path. Remember, the goal is not to lose or gain a great deal of weight all at once, but to be healthy by staying active and adopting proper eating habits.
There are consequences to being overweight as well as underweight. For instance, if you’re overweight, you’re more at risk for conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. On the other hand, being underweight can weaken the immune system or make you more susceptible to fracturing a bone and other injuries.
Consider these weight management tips:
- Schedule an appointment for a physical. Before starting any type of weight loss or weight gain program, make an appointment with your doctor for a full physical examination. This way, you’ll understand if you face any risks or have any conditions that could hinder your progress. You can also discuss how many calories you should be consuming daily. Cutting back too many calories may have detrimental effects. You may find yourself getting fatigued or your metabolism slowing down even further if you aren’t eating the correct amount.
- Address your eating habits. It’s not uncommon for seniors to find it difficult to eat healthy. Perhaps they’re cooking for one, or they enjoy salty or sweet snacks late at night. However, it’s time to make some healthy choices when it comes to your diet. Incorporate lean proteins, leafy greens, whole grains, fruits, and avoid those pre-packaged snacks as much as possible.
- Enjoy a social meal. Studies show that seniors who eat together eat better. We naturally eat more when we’re with others, and we are less likely to skip meals. Plan at least one weekly meal with friends or family members.
- Strengthen your bones. More than 10 million Americans currently have osteoporosis, and another 34 million are estimated to have low bone density that could lead to developing osteoporosis. The food choices you make can have a direct impact on your bones, which will make you feel stronger and healthier. Choose foods rich in vitamin D and calcium, like fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese.
- Get 30 minutes of exercise every day. Exercise burns calories while helping you build and maintain muscle mass. Try aerobic exercises such as walking or swimming; strength training exercises by utilizing weights or medicine balls; and stretching exercises to increase your flexibility. You can even break the 30 minutes into 10 or 15 minute increments as you build your endurance and strength.
- Drink plenty of water. Sometimes, your body can mistake thirst for hunger and lead you to reach for an unnecessary (or unhealthy) snacks. Try to drink at least 64 ounces of water every day.