What Seniors Need To Know
About Losing Weight In
Their Golden Years
By: Sheila Olson
You may have heard about the statistics surrounding America's obesity crisis, but perhaps you weren't aware the the majority of baby boomers are overweight or obese — a startling 72 percent of men and 67 percent of women. It's no surprise that hypertension, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis are associated with this age group, too. While losing weight is obviously the answer, it has to be done in a safe way as to not shock the system and/or disrupt any other potential health issues. It's always a good idea to speak to a doctor before beginning a weight loss program, but especially if you're in the senior age range. If you fall into this category, read on to learn how you can get a hold of your health so you can fully enjoy your golden years.
While physical activity is a no-brainer, it can be difficult — if not painful — if you have mobility issues or arthritis. However, it's important to note that exercise actually improves symptoms of stiffness, thus improving your endurance. Some of the best activities include yoga, watersports, walking, pilates, stretching, tai chi, strength training, cycling, Zumba, elliptical training, gardening, and suspension training.
If you're the type of person who has trouble staying motivated (or your have serious mobility issues), set up a home gym so you can work out in the privacy of your own environment. Key elements to ensure a well-rounded workout (cardio, strength training, flexibility, and core) include: dumbbells, a solid piece of cardio equipment (stationary cycle, treadmill, or elliptical trainer), a medicine ball or ab trainer, resistance bands, a BOSU balance trainer, and a yoga mat. It’s not a bad idea to install a full-length mirror so you can keep an eye on your form. Downloading an app or popping in a DVD can give you more direction.
Tweak Your Diet
At this juncture in your life, you may already have a few other health issues to contend with, so it's a good idea to consult a nutritionist to help you create a dietary plan that reflects those issues as well as the goal of losing weight. Since muscle loss is already an issue with the senior set, it's important not to shed pounds too quickly, as doing so can cause additional deterioration and decreased physical strength. A dietician can also suggest the right supplements to take, which is particularly important if appetite is an issue, as it's more difficult to get the required amount of vitamins and minerals.
Get Enough Sleep
It's a proven fact that lack of sleep leads to weight gain and/or makes it difficult to shed pounds. For starters, your body produces higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn amps up your appetite — and not for carrot sticks. Hormones also become unbalanced, so leptin (which signals that you're full) is decreased. There's also the sheer fact that when you're tired, you're less likely to stick to an exercise routine.
Sleep can be challenging for older people due to mental health issues and sleep disorders. While approximately 20 percent of seniors take some form of sleeping pill, it's best to try to improve your habits the natural way first, as many medications can become extremely addictive. For example:
- Pick a sleep schedule and stick to it (even on the weekends).
- Avoid midday napping.
- “Unplug” from your smartphone, laptop and other digital devices at least one hour before sleep.
- Don't drink anything before bed.
- Exercise early.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol at least five to six hours before sleep.
- Make sure your bedroom is conducive to rest. Invest in a quality mattress, hang blackout shades or blinds, get a white noise machine to pump out ambient sounds such as crashing waves, and clear out any clutter.
The true secret to weight loss success is having patience. Concentrate on fat loss and not the number on the scale, and keep yourself motivated by breaking your target goal into smaller, more achievable goals. Remember to be realistic, too. Being healthy is the most important factor.
Photo Credit: Pixabay