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Seniors experience a host of physical changes that can affect their overall health and well-being. With age, metabolism begins to slow and the body doesn’t burn quite as many calories as it did in previous years. The digestive system may be unable to utilize the nutrients in many common foods. For many seniors, aches and pains may prevent intense physical activities. All of these factors combined contribute significantly to obesity in the 65-plus crowd.
While it may be more difficult, it’s still possible to lose weight despite advancing age. Later, we’ll highlight a few diet and exercise habits that can help seniors shed pounds. But first, Cool Kinetic Beautiful wants you to understand why maintaining a healthy weight is vital regardless of age.
Weight and disease
Obesity is one of the most dominant health crises around the world, with 13% of the adult population tipping the scales with a body mass index of 30 or higher. As Sciencedirect explains, this is problematic. Obesity is a known contributor to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and pulmonary disease. Furthermore, and especially for seniors, a higher body mass may result in arthritis, a systemic inflammation of the joints that can significantly impede mobility.
Obese individuals have shorter lifespans and a degraded quality of life. In older persons, excessive weight is directly associated with urinary incontinence and visual impairments.
The role of diet and exercise
Diet and exercise are important throughout a person’s life. But these needs change as men and women enter their post-retirement years. Osteoporosis and waning muscle mass can make it more difficult to participate in activities, such as weightlifting and high intensity cardiovascular workouts. However, there remain a number of physical fitness options for seniors.
Swimming, walking and Pilates are among the most viable workouts for seniors. But if you’re not sure where to start, a Silver Sneakers program can be the hot ticket. Available to anyone who has Medicare Advantage or MediGap, this fitness program is typically found in most gyms and even some senior centers. You have access to fitness equipment in addition to a wealth of classes.
Older people who exercise regularly enjoy greater flexibility, better balance, preserved neurocognitive function, reduced lipids in the blood, better joint health and lower blood pressure. Seniors can look to some technology for some extra fitness motivation. For example, a pair of wireless earphones can help them complete a workout because music can be an excellent motivator. Seniors can also use a fitness tracker to evaluate their progress.
Exercise and everyday activities require fuel. And for humans, that means food. Unfortunately, we are a society of convenience and tend to gravitate toward fast and processed foods that require less preparation. As previously mentioned, age causes the metabolism to dwindle, making the body less able to properly digest certain types of food. For this reason, as well as to boost overall health, seniors should focus on eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
At home and on the go
Regardless of age or lifestyle, it is possible to create a healthy routine that includes a balanced diet and exercise without making sacrifices that impede a person’s standard of living. When out at restaurants, for instance, seniors should choose vegetable-based dishes or those that center on fish instead of red meat. Seniors no longer able to transport themselves back and forth to a gym or fitness center may opt for a simple home gym consisting of basic equipment such as yoga mats, resistance bands, dumbbells and other accessories.
A healthy weight looks different on people of different ages and body shapes. A good rule of thumb, however, is that seniors should strive for a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9, which is in the normal category. Most otherwise healthy adults will benefit from at least 150 minutes of mild to moderate exercise each week. Dietary needs vary according to age. Seniors should speak with their doctor to determine their unique needs and safest forms of exercise.