Healthy and Safe Senior Weight Management

The growing obesity problem affects millions of Americans. Much of the concern about obesity is directed at children and younger adults, since both of these populations represent a significant number. Weight management is a concern for seniors, as well.

Although overweight seniors may represent a smaller percentage of their population, maintaining a healthy weight has potentially more implications for senior health than for younger adults. In our older years diet, nutrition and exercise are more complex, and have a heightened effect on quality of life.

Senior nutrition

When it comes to healthy eating the rules for senior weight loss are generally the same as for younger generations, with a few caveats. For example, a 25-year-old looking to lose 10 pounds  can fairly easily accomplish this goal through calorie restriction. Popular diet programs such as weight watchers, Whole30 and paleo diets also are effective. And while these programs work for seniors, too,  any diet that focuses on calorie restriction needs to be fortified with nutrient dense food. Seniors are at a higher risk for bone issues and muscle loss, both of which are exacerbated through malnutrition.

Senior exercise

Healthy and sustainable weight-loss results from a combination of eating habits and activity. Exercise improves senior health, preventing osteoporosis and muscle loss. Experts suggest that people over 65 get 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise each week. While some seniors can safely hit the gym and work circles around younger adults there are physical limitations that accompany age.

Speak first with your physician as they will be able to identify any exercises that you should avoid, as seniors are at a heightened risk for falls and cardiovascular disease. In general, low impact enjoyable activities are preferable to intense short periods of working out. This is not to say that high-intensity training is not effective – in fact some studies suggest that the most progress can be made with short bursts of a board of exercise – but older Americans can reap benefits or their lifetime through sustainable activity.

Good exercises for seniors at target weight loss include:

– Walking
– Low impact treadmill and elliptical machine use
– Cycling
– Weight exercises targeting muscle strength

Social benefits

Sustainable weight loss occurs best with a total lifestyle change. And the healthy lifestyle that promotes weight loss also provides well-being general well-being to seniors. Nutrition and exercise ball can be optimized in a social setting. Cooking with friends encourages frequent healthy eating as opposed to solitary eating, which may be more focused on convenience items. Exercise provides a wonderful social opportunity. Daily walks with friends improve your quality of life on several levels and makes you more likely to enjoy a healthy meal afterwards.

Unhealthy weight loss

An additional problem experience with the senior community is the opposite of obesity – unhealthy weight loss resulting from malnutrition. Seniors who are experiencing boredom or feelings of loneliness may skip meals. Skipped meals increases the chance of malnutrition, because when we eat only when we are starving, we tend to fill up on carbohydrates to satiate our appetites.  Malnutrition leads to osteoporosis and potential muscle loss both of which can make it very difficult to get exercise. So a vicious cycle begins that severely compromises health.

Ultimately then healthy weight management requires a combination of three life aspects. A healthy, balanced diet that encourages regular small meals is the foundation. Incorporating modest regular exercise is the next step. Finally, adding social outlets helps incorporate these positive habits sustainably.

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