Authored by: Rebecca Johns Inage Source: https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/smiling-senior-couple-holding-cherry-tomatoes-cucumber-slices-front-their-eyes_4424162.htm
Being overweight and obese is common in America, affecting people of all ages, including older adults. In particular, the 2022 senior report by America’s Health Rankings reveals that 25.8% of older adults aged 65 years and above are obese. This makes them more vulnerable to certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and immobility, due to stress on the joints. Moreover, excess weight can make it harder for them to carry on with daily activities, especially if they already have existing conditions like arthritis.
Fortunately, overweight and obese seniors can lose extra weight and avoid these health risks. Here are a few ways to do so.
Maintain a healthy diet
It is no surprise that maintaining a healthy diet is vital to losing weight. However, this is more important for seniors because their metabolism has slowed. When you pass 60, your body’s ability to break down food slows down. Thus, you must be more cautious of your meals to prevent further weight gain.
Effective dieting tips for older adults include eating healthier foods and limiting the consumption of empty calories. Focus on having whole foods in your meals—such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish. Avoid processed meals like fast food or takeout. It’s also essential to stay away from food with high sugar content and no nutritional value, as these only lead to weight gain. A few examples are soft drinks and junk food.
Do fat-burning exercises
Exercising is another key practice for weight loss. It burns excess calories that would otherwise turn into fat and cause weight gain.
One thing you must remember when working out is to choose safe and senior-friendly exercises. An aging body can experience pains and aches, so intense workouts will not suit you anymore. Instead, try some of the best exercises for seniors, which can be done before bedtime. These include bodyweight squats, planks, and stationary lunges. Doing these will help you burn fat and even make falling asleep easier since it uses up your remaining energy.
Take weight loss medication
Even after dieting and exercising, you may still find it difficult to lose weight due to your slow metabolism. In these cases, it’s time to consider taking weight loss medication.
Seniors can benefit from doctor-prescribed medical weight loss management, as this can address certain factors contributing to being overweight or obese, such as genetics. After all, everyone’s bodies are different, and yours may just have a more challenging time shedding weight. Coupled with dieting and exercise, you’re more likely to successfully lose weight with these medicines. Some medicines that you can expect to be prescribed include Orlistat (a thrice-daily capsule), Naltrexone-Bupropion (twice-daily tablets), or Semaglutide (a weekly injection). Before using these medications, consult your doctor to know if they suit your health status and potential existing medical conditions.
Get sufficient sleep
Apart from the actions above, getting enough sleep is crucial. The connection between weight loss and sleep is that insufficient sleep makes you hungrier. This is because your body lacks the time to regulate neurotransmitters like ghrelin and leptin during sleep. The former promotes hunger, while the latter contributes to feeling full. As such, the lack of regulation of these neurotransmitters sends mixed signals and increases your appetite.
As a senior, difficulty falling asleep can be a frequent occurrence due to maintenance medications or circadian rhythm shifts. You can induce sleep by cutting down on sugary foods that can increase your energy levels, dimming the lights in your bedroom, and making your bed as comfortable as possible.
Overweight and obese seniors have a higher risk of developing diseases like cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and joint-related ailments. Prevent this by maintaining a healthy diet, doing fat-burning exercises, seeking weight loss medical advice, and getting sufficient sleep.
Author bio: Rebecca is a freelance writer focusing on topics surrounding health, wellness, and aging. In her spare time, she likes to collect cookbooks and tend to her herb garden.