One of the flaws of many seniors is that they fail to continue on a healthy diet and weight loss regimen. Both of these factors can contribute greatly to health problems in people over the age of 60. Physical health is important to maintain flexibility, cardio vascular health, bone and muscle strength and support the every day stress of retirement lifestyle. Of course, no one expects seniors to run ten miles or religiously attend a vigorous Zumba fitness class. There are, however, many things that you can do for yourself to maintain a healthy weight and weight loss during retirement.
Understanding Your Threshold
When you are senior citizen, there are several things to consider for weight loss and weight management. The first is what your body can handle. No matter what age you are, your body has a threshold for fitness. With age, joints begin to wear and deteriorate, cardiovascular health declines, lung capacity decreases and metabolism and fat burn decrease. Attempting to workout as you did in your 20’s will only result in an increased chance of medical problems or injury. Before beginning any workout regimen, determine what your threshold is for activity. For someone who is between 50-60 you should be able to handle at 2-3 mile walk on a daily basis. Where as someone who is over 80 will be capable of walking one-half mile daily. Before starting any exercise activities, you should consult your physician to learn what types of activities will be best for you in your physical state.
Importance of Strength Training
Strength training is highly important for seniors. Not only will it allow you to burn fat but it will help build lean muscle mass which supports the bones. The better your bones are supported by the surrounding muscles and tissue, the less likely they are to break. Strength training also helps tone excess skin that has resulted from strength training. Seniors should start with a basic routine that features two to five pound dumbbells. These are light-weight enough to accomplish weight loss and increase muscle tone without adding muscle bulk.
A healthy eating plan is critical for seniors who are looking to loose or maintain their weight and health. To start, foods should be vitamin rich. This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and dark leafy greens. Minimal red meat and processed or prepared foods as well. In conjunction with a low fat, low cholesterol diet, seniors should avoid high levels of sugars and sodium. All of these factors combined can result in excess fat storage in the body, weight gain and potential health problems with diabetes or kidney stones. Seniors also need a complete multivitamin to help them gain the nutrients that they are missing from their every day diet. If you have difficulty swallowing larger pills, a multivitamin in liquid form is recommended. Seniors typically have less of an appetite so the standard food pyramid represents more foods and nutrients than you can truly intake in a day. Consider using a food pyramid as a guide to the percentage of fats, proteins, meats, fruits and vegetables you need on a day to day basis.
Dealing with Joint Pain
Arthritis and joint pain are chronic problems with people over the age of 50. If it is difficult to get exercise because of the pain, you should consult your doctor for the recommended dosage of glucosamine and chondroitin to lubricate the joints and a supplemental anti-inflammatory medication. Low impact exercises will be gentle on the joints while also toning muscles to help eliminate pain.
Creating a Fitness Plan
On average, people over the age of 50 who are trying to loose weight should attempt no more than five pounds per month or 60 pounds per year. When creating a fitness plan you will need to measure your body mass index and keep track of it as well as weight lost to ensure you are not loosing weight to quickly and putting your health and body at risk. Rapid weight loss weakens the tissues that cover vital organs including the heart and lungs. Weak tissue is more susceptible to rips or tears that may be life threatening.
There are many low impact activities for seniors to loose weight. The most common activities are aqua fitness classes, Tai Chi, yoga and walking. Aqua fitness is a perfect activity to burn calories and create resistance to build muscle tone. With your body feeling buoyant in the water, it is less stress on joints which makes the exercises both more effective and less painful. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese exercise that is shown to reduce stress on the body and improve mental health. The concept is slow flowing movements that engage multiple muscles of the body with each movement. Tai Chi is a slow paced exercise that is suitable for seniors of any age. Yoga is similar to Tai Chi but more intense. Yoga exercises are slow, breathing centered movements that force a person to engage their muscles to help maintain balance and build strength. This exercise can help center the mind, body and spirit and aid in relaxation and body detoxification. There are many variations of yoga. Seniors in optimal health can benefit from Power or Bikram Yoga for intense muscle toning and calorie burn, while those that are less able can enjoy the slow, flowing movements of Hatha or Vinyasa yoga.
Weight loss on any level takes time and energy. It is important to continually put forth the effort in exercising and eating right to see and maintain weight loss results. As we age it is critical to maintain even the smallest level of physical activity each day to promote a strong cardiovascular system and help our bodies protect themselves against disease, sickness and injury.