Healthy and Safe Weight Loss for Seniors

Contributed by Mary Shannon of SeniorsMeet.org

Being a healthy weight is very important for today’s seniors. Since people are living longer, they are more prone to health dangers as they age, such as diabetes or heart disease. Getting in shape can help seniors slow the aging process, lower their risks from medical procedure complications, and improve their mental health. However, seniors do run into special risks if they lose weight too quickly or in the wrong way. According to Nutrition.org, these risks include:

● Loss of bone mineral density.
● Regaining unhealthy fat. When seniors regain weight, it is often in the form of fat, which poses many health problems.

Safely Losing Weight with Fitness

So, how can seniors avoid these risks while losing weight? The first step is to talk to your doctor. He can help advise you on the types of exercises that best fit your body and health. Ask him about fitness activities that you are interested in.

There may be exercises you want to avoid as well. For example, high-impact training has an elevated risk of injury, including joint problems and bone injuries.

Once you choose an exercise or fitness routine, you can benefit from setting up your own home gym for strength training and cardio with the equipment you and your doctor decide will work best for you. Working out at home means you don’t have to feel self-conscious in front of others or skip your workout when the weather is bad. Read more benefits of a home gym in this post from Run to the Finish.

As you exercise, the Cleveland Clinic recommends you monitor your progress to stay safe. You can get a pedometer or an activity tracker. There are many smartphone apps available as well that allow you to track heart rate and efficiency levels.

Finally, make sure that you start slowly. A little activity each day is a good idea as you progress to more focused exercise two to three days per week for 20 or so minutes.

What Types of Activities Are Best?

The following activities can benefit older adults:

● Aerobics, which can include a brisk walk or gardening.
● Two days of muscle-strengthening exercises per week, if allowed by your doctor. Older adults who use resistance training are more likely to lose weight and retain most of their lean muscle mass compared to seniors who only walk for exercise.
● Exercises to help improve balance and/or stability, which can keep you safe from falls and injuries, such as yoga. SilverSneakers offers senior-friendly fitness programs throughout the U.S., plus it’s often free for seniors to participate.
● Biking is a fantastic way to get the exercise you need and enjoy the outdoors. E-biking is a great alternative for seniors, as it can help take some of the stress off knees and joints. If you’re in the market for an e-bike, check out the great options on Electricbyke.com.

Remember to keep hydrated while working out, and to do five-minute warm-up and cool-down sessions, both of which should include stretching, to reduce your chance of injury.

The Best Nutrition to Get and Stay in Shape

A balanced diet is a necessary part of staying in shape. Obesity can become an issue as you age, because you simply don’t need as many calories as you did when you were younger, according to Amy Campbell, a registered dietician and diabetes educator cited by U.S.News. She believes that the DASH, TLC, and Mediterranean diets are “smart choices” for older adults, but notes that simply eating nutritionally-balanced meals is just as helpful. Protein is a concern for seniors who are frail, so if that’s you, add extra protein to your diet.

Another dietary concern for seniors is getting enough fiber. Fiber helps with digestion, can prevent constipation, and can even contribute to weight loss. Raw produce is one of the best sources of healthy fiber.

This article was contributed by Mary Shannon of SeniorsMeet.org