The average person has 90 percent of his body fat stored subcutaneously -- beneath the skin -- and the other 10 percent packed in the spaces between the abdominal organs and in a sheath of tissue in the abdominal cavity called the omentum. As you age, fat storage shifts -- more is deposited as the second type of fat known as visceral fat. The trouble with visceral fat is that it isn't just padding: It acts as an endocrine organ and produces proteins that increase your risk of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. Diet, exercise and stress management may help you whittle your middle.
Reducing your waist circumference, even if you don't lose weight, can be very beneficial to your health. Start by taking a baseline reading by placing a measuring tape around your waist just above the hip bones. Breathe out and take a reading. A circumference greater than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men is considered a serious risk factor for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Take a new reading every month as you implement lifestyle changes.
Regular exercise can help trim your waist, but as an older individual, safety is especially important. As you age, your lung capacity and heart rate decrease, and you may experience bone loss and joint problems. To make your workout as safe as possible, begin with 10 to 15 minutes of a warm-up activity. Walking followed by calisthenics is a good start. Choose an activity, such as swimming or stationary bicycling, that is easy on your joints. Cool down with stretching and relaxation exercises. It may be helpful to take a class designed for seniors at a local gym. Discuss exercise plans with your physician.
Be a Picky Eater
By age 60, you've earned the right to be a picky eater -- and it's better for your health, too. Eat only the highest quality whole foods, including whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, chicken, meat, beans and low-fat dairy. Turn your nose up at processed foods, which often contain trans fats and fructose sweeteners -- both of which promote abdominal fat deposits. Harvard Medical School recommends a diet rich in calcium because the mineral -- found in dairy products -- may slow or prevent visceral fat gain.
Stress Makes You Fat
When you are stressed and anxious, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can cause visceral fat gain even if you are at a healthy weight, so it's important to manage your emotions. If you find yourself depressed or anxious, talk to your health care provider about counseling. Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your day. For instance, you might take a walk, call a friend or pick up a calming hobby.