It’s natural to go through many physical changes with age. However, what doesn’t change is the need to maintain a healthy weight. Metabolism—or how the body converts food into energy—may slow down as we age, so older adults must adjust their diet or exercise to manage weight. Seniors may often become sedentary, leading to obesity, which has a 41.5% prevalence in adults over 60. Some may experience sudden and unintentional weight loss and malnutrition, so keeping an eye on lifestyle changes is crucial for healthy aging.
It’s easier said than done to manage weight. Some may have difficulty with weight loss even with the right lifestyle changes, and that may have to do with their set point weight. This theory posits that your body is predisposed to a certain weight and seemingly works against efforts to change it. However, it’s not impossible to overcome as long as sustainable weight management practices are in place. Results won’t always be fast, but monitoring health factors can significantly improve energy, mood, and strength as an older adult. Here’s how seniors can achieve proper weight management for better health:
Physical activity is crucial for older adults as it helps build strength and delay the onset of health problems that often come with aging. However, several factors, such as mobility issues, increased weakness, health conditions, and more, can impact exercise. Fortunately, seniors can get moving in many ways to manage weight without straining the body. Guided exercise programs like Essentrics have proven to be helpful for older adults. It’s similar to Tai Chi and Yoga, and it helps master control over lifting and moving your body while performing low-impact exercises; it’s been found to help boost flexibility, balance, strength, and even mood. If such activities may be challenging, simply taking a brisk walk can help improve health and weight. An additional benefit to walking is that it can even lower the risk of Alzheimer’s!
Eat a suitable diet
All sorts of diets have popped up over the years that promise quick results, but these are often unsustainable and may not be suitable for seniors looking to manage weight. The most important aspect of exploring possible eating plans is to ensure sufficient nutrition that can also cater to specific needs. Generally, following a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean proteins is one of the best diets for seniors and can help maintain a healthy weight. Considering other aspects of health that need attention is also essential. If you struggle with heart health, brain health, or issues like diabetes, specific eating plans may suit you best and give you the nutrition you need to boost these areas of health.
Get good quality sleep
Sleep is often overlooked in weight management, but it’s crucial for older adults. Sleep impairments are prevalent in seniors, which can be an issue, especially for those struggling with obesity. Getting a sufficient amount of sleep helps keep the body in its best condition, as less sleep has been linked to higher rates of weight gain and obesity risk. Sleep can also help monitor appetite since having a good amount of energy from your rest prevents you from seeking it out in food. It’s not just sleep duration that matters; sleep quality is also a big player in health. Good quality sleep has been found to be a predictor of muscle mass and strength, which are needed for functional mobility and adequate physical activity and play a role in managing weight. Additionally, good sleep lowers the risk of depression, anxiety, and poor quality of life.
Older adults must care for their health as they age, especially their weight. That said, seniors should strive to find the right balance of healthy habits they can do while still enjoying their golden years of life to the fullest.
Sierra Birchman is a freelance writer interested in health and wellness. She explores topics on weight management and a holistic approach to well-being. Other than writing, she enjoys hiking and running.