Losing weight is never easy. For seniors, however, it can seem nearly impossible. Thankfully, the same basic principles of proper nutrition and added exercise -- performed with increased safety -- still has a weight-loss effect on the body even after 60.
Talk To Your Doc
As with any major life changes, it is important to clear your new regimen with your primary care physician. Some changes can be harmful if you have conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart issues or high blood pressure.
Clean Up Your Plate
As you get older, you begin to expend a lower amount of calories per day as your activity level decreases. So, while you may eat less calories naturally, it is critical that you continue to eat in a way that helps your body rather than hinders it. For maximum overall health and weight-loss results, avoid empty calories such as chips, soda and high sugar treats and choose foods low in cholesterol and fat. Instead, opt for nutrient-dense foods with few calories such as vegetables, fruits, lean meats and whole grains.
Don't Fear Activity
Being physically active is just as important -- if not more important -- for seniors as it is for anyone else. After 60, joint pain, balance problems, endurance levels and flexibility may make it challenging to exercise. However, daily activities can improve these health issues. And if your goal is weight loss, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests seniors do the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week. Start slowly with a variety of activities that match your ability in order to prevent injury. Effective aerobic activities may include walking, bicycling, swimming, dancing or low impact fitness classes.
Resistance Training In Your Golden Years
As you age, your body loses muscle naturally. In your sixties, you will lose 15 percent of your muscular strength, 15 percent in your seventies and as much as 30 percent each succeeding decade. However, resistance training can help deter the loss of muscle, decrease your fear of falling and increase fat loss. If older than 45, consider joining a professionally-led exercise program -- fitness professionals offer guidance, wisdom and will show you how to exercise properly and safely.
Never train the same muscle group two days in a row. You must allow your body at least one day rest in order to prevent injury. It's also important to strength train slowly and only perform eight to 12 reps per set without straining too hard. Incorporate strength training by lifting free weights, using exercise machines or including resistance bands into your workout. Even after 60, these methods are effective for building strength, toning your muscles and increasing your metabolism.
Keep It Safe
As a senior, you are at a higher risk of injury. Thus, it is imperative you follow basic safety rules to continue benefiting from your active life. Always wear comfortable and well-fitting shoes and avoid exercising outside in extreme temperatures. Also, drink 64 oz. of water each day as staying hydrated plays a major role in the proper functioning of your body. Listen to your symptoms; if you feel your intensity level is too high, ease up and continue at a lighter pace or stop completely. If you experience any pain in your chest, arms, neck or jaw, feel lightheaded, nauseated or weak, become short of breath or feel your heart is beating too fast or skipping beats, stop the activity and call your doctor or 911.
- MedlinePlus: Nutrition For Seniors
- NIHSeniorHealth: Eating Well As You Get Older
- CDC: Making Physical Activity a Part of an Older Adult's Life
- AceFitness: Active Seniors Enjoy Life More
- ExRx: Weight Training for Specific Populations: Older Adults
- OrthoInfo: Seniors and Exercise: Starting An Exercise Program
- OrthoInfo: Seniors and Exercise