Today, more than 46 million Americans are over 65, and by 2060 year, that number will more than double to over 98 million, or around 25 percent of the population! What's more, this latest crop of 60-somethings are living longer and working harder than past generations, and having more sex than many of their younger counterparts. And while all of that is great news for sexagenarians, there's also evidence that nearly a quarter of Americans age 65 - 74 are basically sedentary (meaning they're only as active as they need to be to get through their day), and 40 percent of people in that same age range are obese — yikes! Fortunately, by paying attention to the specific diet and exercise recommendations for your age group, you can help buck the trend and show everyone what 60 really looks like.
Count Your Calories
For women, if you're moderately active (equivalent to walking about 1.5 to 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour), you'll want to stick to 1800 calories a day, according to the latest dietary guidelines from the USDA. And if you don't workout at all (which is about to change, of course), you'll want to stick to 1600 calories a day. And if you're very active (equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3 to 4 miles per hour), you'll want to drop from 2200 calories a day to 2000.
As for men, if you're very active, you'll want to consume around 2600 calories a day. Otherwise, you can aim for 2400 calories a day if you're moderately active (though that number drops to 2200 once you hit 66), and 2200 if your lifestyle is basically sedentary.
Look for Nutrient-Dense Foods
Steer clear of nearly all packaged foods (except for maybe fortified cereals), which often contain unhealthy fats plus loads of added sugar — otherwise known as empty calories. Instead, fuel up on nutrient-dense foods, which tend to be low in calories, but high in essential vitamins and minerals. That means eating lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes (which are full of fiber and vitamin B6), low-fat dairy (for plenty of calcium), lean meats and fish. In addition to make sure you get enough fiber, calcium, and B6, also keep vitamin D (found in fatty fish like salmon and tuna), vitamin B12 (a supplement may be necessary), and vitamin C, which you can find in citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli and more.
Any activity that raises your heart rate can rev up your metabolism, helping you burn more fat and calories and keep your body fit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults of all ages get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Moderate-intensity activities include a brisk walk, a steady bike ride on flat terrain, or water aerobics. Vigorous-intensity activities include jogging or running, uphill biking or biking at a fast clip and swimming laps. If it's been a while since you worked out, talk to your doctor about how to ease into a cardio routine.
Both men and women lose muscle mass as they age, though women are even more prone to the decline, according to Washington University School of Medicine researchers. That loss of muscle can slow down your metabolism, leading to packing on extra pounds. To help you maintain a toned physique, turn to strength training. The National Institute on Aging recommends low-impact strength training exercises with light dumbbells or ankle weights, plus doing more reps (10 to 15) at a lower weight. Added bonus: Recent research suggests strength training may also reduce your risk for Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Strike a Pose
If you haven't taken up yoga already, now's the time. Research has shown that a regular practice not only builds strength and balance, which can reduce your risk of falling, but also lubricates joints, which may be helpful at curbing arthritis. Your heart and head also reap the benefits: studies suggest that yoga can lessen anxiety, stress, and depression, in addition to lowering blood pressure.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you in your 60s? Do you agree with these eating and exercise tips? Are there other questions you have for us? Leave a comment below and let us know.