Freelance Contribution by Karen Weeks

Losing weight tends to be a universal goal, but did you know that your age plays a factor in how you go about it? Our bodies tend to age a lot faster than our mind, so seniors looking to lose weight and get their health on track need to follow some safety precautions to ensure they are doing so in a healthy manner. If you are trying to slim down and lead a healthier lifestyle, check out these tips before diving in.


How Much Do You Need?


Recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that each week seniors should strive for either 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise, paired with at least two days of targeted muscle strengthening. By meeting the requirements, you can fight back against some of the most common aging ailments such as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. Furthermore, you can get a mental health boost, too.


According to Qunomedical, the incidences of depression are at their highest in seniors and is often the result of the loss of mental and physical abilities, independence, family members and friends. Regular exercise not only maintains and improves physical abilities, but the accompanying release of feel-good neurotransmitters gives you surge of energy and a mood boost.


Adjust Your Mindset


If you are under the impression that weight gain is a normal part of aging, then it’s time for you to change your mindset. Why? Well, it simply isn’t true, and by thinking this you could be preventing yourself from meeting your weight-loss goals. Come up with a positive mantra and say it to yourself daily. You might find it helps to join together with other seniors looking to improve their health, giving you a source of support as well as someone to hold you accountable. With patience and dedication, losing weight is possible at any age, you just might have to take things down a notch.


Perhaps you have to walk instead of run on the treadmill, or lift half the weight you did when you were younger, but that’s OK. Pushing yourself too far, too fast can lead to injury, putting a serious hiccup in your weight-loss journey.


Maintain/Build Muscle Mass


Muscle mass is crucial for seniors to be able to maintain their physical independence and prevent disability. In order to lose weight while still maintaining or building up muscle mass, resistance training is highly recommended in order to achieve the right balance. According to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest University, seniors who dieted, along with weight lifting (resistance training) and walking lost more fat.


In addition, the group who participated in resistance exercises kept more muscle mass, losing only 1.7 pounds compared with 3.5 and 2.2 pounds respectively in the groups who dieted/walked and dieted only. A great way to build up muscle includes lifting weights and using resistance bands, but less intense physical activity such as yoga or gardening work just as well. Check out these great strengthening exercises that are perfect for seniors and incorporate them into your routine.


Adjust Your Diet


When it comes to adjusting your diet, the importance of maintaining muscle and bone mass again comes into play. Be sure to eat foods with plenty of protein, calcium, and vitamin D. In addition, watch your portion sizes. The general consensus is that with each passing decade, you need 100 few calories to stay at your current weight. However, keep in mind that your body needs fuel, so cutting out too much will leave you feeling sluggish and can be detrimental to your health. If you are serious about switching up your diet, talk with your doctor or a nutritionist about the best way to do so to be sure that you are still getting the proper vitamins and nutrients based on your age. Make small changes such as eating grilled instead of fried or using a smaller plate.


It doesn’t matter what age you are, it’s never too late to shed a few pounds and get your health in order. Following the recommended weekly exercise amounts, get in the right mindset, focus on maintaining mass and make small changes to your diet to maximize your weight loss. Just like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race.


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