Shouldn’t one of the joys of aging be to finally forget about your weight and just relax? Unfortunately, even as a senior you have to think about weight management. In fact, it can become more difficult as you age because of changes in your body.
Why It’s a Challenge to Maintain Your Weight as You Age?
It can be perplexing: You find it a little harder to fit into your regular pants, and an extra walk each day just isn’t taking care of those extra pounds. Even if you haven’t changed your diet habits, your body is changing. It’s much easier for seniors to gain weight and much tougher to lose it.
If you feel like you’re slowing down a little, you may be right, and your body is too — specifically, your metabolism. Metabolism is the process that your body performs to burn and use calories, and when it slows down, you don’t use as many calories as you once did. Any unused calories turn into pounds and unwanted weight gain.
This means that as you age, your calorie intake should be lowered to prevent weight gain. If you’re giving your body more than it needs, you’ll put on more weight.
Exercise may also be more difficult for you as an older adult, or maybe you’re just not getting as much activity into your day as you should. Health problems, arthritis, and soreness may seem like good excuses to skip exercise, but you’re doing yourself more harm than good by being sedentary. Research suggests that regular physical activity can help boost memory, improve balance, and prevent depression among people over 65.
What’s Your Healthy Weight?
Maintaining a healthy body weight can keep you in shape through your senior years and ward off a host of health problems, including:
- Diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic diseases
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels
- Some cancers
- Loss of mental acuity
Ask your doctor about what your healthy body weight should be. One indicator of being overweight is your body mass index, or BMI.
Keep in mind that BMI isn’t always the best indicator for everyone, which is another reason to talk to your doctor about the goal weight you should shoot for.
Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight~!
How do you achieve a healthy body weight, especially if your aging body is working against you? It’s a tough job, but you can absolutely maintain a healthy body weight as a senior.
First, figure out how many calories you need to eat in a day to get to and maintain your ideal weight. Women over age 50 who are inactive and get little to no exercise need about 1,600 calories each day. That number jumps to 2,000 to 2,200 for very active women, and it’s in the middle, at about 1,800 calories, for those whose activity levels are average.
Men over age 50 need about 2,000 calories each day if they’re not very active, and between 2,200 and 2,400 if they’re moderately active. Men who get a lot of physical activity each day need between 2,400 and 2,800 calories.
Start with these basic numbers in mind, then meet your needs with healthy foods — not just any old calories. To stay full and satisfied while losing weight, try these changes to your diet:
- Add foods rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Limit salt and fat.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Choose lean meats like chicken, fish, or turkey without skin, instead of hamburger or steaks marbled with fat.
- Eat and drink lots of low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
Remember to add exercise into your weight management equation. Make a commitment to yourself to get active. It’s okay to start out slowly, then gradually increase your activity level until you’re working out and burning calories on most days of the week. The more exercise you get, the better you’ll feel — and the easier it will be to maintain your weight. (By Diana Rodriguez / Reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD)