As the years go by, the pounds creep on. It’s a common experience but being overweight isn’t just another side effect of advancing age. It is possible to live out your golden years at a healthy weight, no matter what your current weight is.
Why Lose Weight?
In the United States, 38.5 percent of adults over the age of 60 are obese, according to the State of Obesity. Many more are overweight. It’s easy to write off weight gain as a part of getting older, but those extra pounds can have a big impact on your health and quality of life.
When you’re overweight, you’re at increased risk of developing high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. These are serious health conditions, but it’s often easy to ignore the prospect of future health problems as long as they’re not affecting you today.
Think about all the ways extra weight does affect you today. Do you feel achy or have low energy? Do you have trouble getting around or walking far? These may be minor inconveniences today, but over time, they can grow disabling, especially if you suffer a fall. As Reuters reports, extra weight increases seniors’ fall risk by 31 percent.
If you want to keep enjoying life in old age, now is the time to start losing weight. But before you start cutting calories or working out, there are a few things you need to know about losing weight after 60.
Keeping Up with Nutrition
Whether you’re over 60 or under 60, the basic rule of weight loss applies: You need to burn more calories than you consume. However, due to seniors’ unique nutritional needs, it’s challenging to ensure proper nutrition while cutting back.
Cutting calories isn’t enough. Seniors must plan their meals carefully and limit empty calories in order to maximize the nutritional value of their meals. A healthy diet should be built around vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, fish, and lean meat and poultry. Be careful to drink plenty of water. Sense of thirst declines with age, so it’s good practice to track your intake.
For seniors, it’s especially important to exercise while losing weight. Muscle loss increases as we age, and weight loss accelerates muscle loss unless you’re building strength at the same time. However, if you’ve been living a sedentary lifestyle, you need to take it slow to avoid injury. Researchers recommend older obese adults start with slow, moderate-intensity exercise to limit strain on weakened muscles and joints. Incorporate both strength-training and aerobic exercise into your routine; as strength and endurance builds, you’ll achieve a more active lifestyle.
While maintaining muscle mass is important, it’s not the only reason to exercise. Exercise also counters the negative mental health impacts of obesity. Both obesity and old age increase a person’s risk for depression, and exercise is a powerful self-management tool that can improve your mood, energy, and outlook.
Getting Past Pain
It’s the lucky few who make it to seniorhood without a lingering pain or two. And unfortunately, it’s hard to find motivation for exercise when you start the day with a stiff back or a sore knee. But not only is fitness important for staying healthy, it can also reduce the physical and mental symptoms of chronic pain. Talk with your doctor to identify exercises that will build strength without causing further pain or injury.
Losing weight isn’t easy, especially when you’ve been living with the same habits for years. But it’s never too late to start changing your health for the better. Follow this advice so you can achieve your weight loss goals safely and healthily.