People are living longer and enjoying active lifestyles well into their 80s and 90s. Research continues to confirm that eating well and being physically active can have a dramatic impact on quality of life for older adults. You are never too old to reap the benefits of a healthy diet and exercise. In fact, as we age, our food choices and activity levels become even more important.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important at any age, but it is especially vital for seniors. As we age, our metabolism slows down, muscles begin to atrophy, and fat begins to replace lean muscle mass. For seniors carrying excess weight, an array of new medical problems can develop, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea and joint pain. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity in all age groups. For seniors, obesity can cause serious medical issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease, osteoarthritis, urinary stress incontinence, respiratory problems and depression. Maintaining a healthy weight as a way to prevent health problems simply makes sense.
Older adults need fewer total calories than other age groups. To get maximum nutrition from you daily calorie intake, you need to focus on quality not quantity. Seniors need to make every calorie count by choosing foods that are packed with nutrients.
Some seniors may have trouble buying or preparing enough nutrient packed foods to meet their daily nutritional needs. Look into the options that are available to help with this issue. Home care services and caregivers can help seniors with buying and preparing nutritious food. Meal delivery services like Meals on Wheels can help by delivering healthy meals when needed.
For seniors who are overweight, this is definitely not the time of life for trying any extreme weight loss programs or fad diets. The goal should be to eat less but eat better food. Extreme diets often eliminate an entire food group, which is never the right choice for nutrition. Losing weight rapidly can also lead to a loss of lean body mass, which is the opposite of what a healthy senior body needs.
We should aim for maintaining a stable, healthy weight as we age. If you need to lose some weight, discuss this with your doctor or a dietitian. They can help you arrive at a plan that strikes the right balance of healthy food and physical activity to help you lose some extra pounds.
To maintain a healthy weight as a senior, find the right combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise. Exercise doesn’t have to mean joining a gym or taking a class. Simply being more active doing activities you enjoy can help with maintaining a healthy weight. A walk in the park with friends, light gardening, or playing with your grandchildren: anything that gets you moving regularly.