According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a significant concern among seniors and is associated with poor mental health and reduced quality of life. Carrying extra weight is a common problem, dismissed by many seniors as a normal condition of aging. It can be a significant health concern during the golden years, and demands serious consideration.
The Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) states that more than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions include some of the leading causes of preventable death, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Other associated conditions include sleep apnea and breathing problems, mental illness such as clinical depression and anxiety, body pain and difficulty with physical performance, high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, high or low cholesterol levels, and osteoarthritis. The estimated annual medical cost associated with obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008.
If you are overweight, you should take immediate remedial steps. The solution is simple — you have to make a deliberate decision to lose weight. Take a few simple steps to a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a balanced, nutritious eating plan.
Calculate Your Body Mass Index (BMI)
Consult with your doctor first. If you have a medical condition, you may receive specific advice concerning nutrition and exercise programs. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI), which is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height.
According to the CDC, a healthy BMI range is between 19 and 25, below 18.5 is underweight, and over 30 is considered obese.
Use an online calculator, or follow these steps:
- Convert your weight to kilograms: weight (pounds) x 0.454
- Convert your height to meters: height (inches) x 0.0254
- Square the answer to step 2
- Divide the answer to Step 1 by the answer to Step 3
- This number is your BMI
Example: Weight 170 pounds, height 5′ 9″:
- 170 x 0.454 = 77.18
- 69 inches x 0.0254 = 1.7526
- 1.7526 x 1.7526 = 3.072
- 77.18 ÷ 3.072 = 25.1
- BMI = 25.1
If you discover your BMI is outside the healthy range, you must make a decision to exercise regularly and improve your diet. Take it slow. Gradually change your diet and increase daily exercise. You’ll feel great, look better, develop a better lifestyle, and improve your quality of life.
Eat Healthy Food
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says healthy eating may reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, some types of cancer, bone loss, and the blood condition anemia. Eating healthy foods may also help lower high cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure, and manage diabetes.
Proper eating will help keep your body healthy, maintain good digestion, and provide you with the energy to exercise regularly. The NIH recommends a specific diet for seniors, which includes the five main nutrients needed to survive and stay healthy – vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and water.
Everyone’s diet will vary according to his or her specific needs and medical conditions, so consulting with your doctor is the first step in planning a healthy diet.
In general, you should drink plenty of fluids, including water, low-fat or fat-free milk, and 100% juice. Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and dairy products. Seafood, lean poultry and meats, beans, eggs and unsalted nuts are a good choice. Choose foods that are low in added sugars and solid fats, and limit your salt (sodium) intake.
Along with proper nutrition, a regular exercise program is essential to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight. Even a very small amount of physical activity is better than inactivity and is beneficial to your overall health. According to the NIH, staying physically active can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities, and can be an effective treatment for many chronic conditions.
Studies show that people with diabetes, arthritis or heart disease benefit from frequent exercise. Staying physically active also helps with balance and walking problems, and high blood pressure. Regular, moderate physical activity can help manage stress and improve your mood, helping to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
- Walking is one of the best ways to exercise. Start gradually, increase activity slowly, and don’t overexert yourself. Let your muscles and joints adjust slowly. You don’t have to push yourself, just get used to daily exercise. For people with limited mobility, just being outside in the fresh air is better than sitting idly at home. You’ll feel better both mentally and physically, meet other people, and enrich your quality of life.
- Swimming is another great way to exercise all parts of your body without excessive body strain. Aquatic exercise tones and strengthens your muscles without straining problem areas. Aqua therapy, usually carried out in groups, requires little or no swimming ability. Flotation devices can help so you can just float around and exercise your legs and arms.
- Yoga and aerobics are terrific methods to give you more mobility. Weight training, bowling, and cycling are excellent ways to maintain healthy muscle tone. Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, taking fewer taxis or taking the dog for an extended walk can make a huge difference.
Read more: 7 Best Exercises To Lose Weight QUICK
You’ll start to feel better, and not only due to exercise. Interaction with people experiencing the same problems as you is supportive. You’ll meet interesting people leading different lifestyles and make new friends. Striking up conversations with strangers will open a new world of possibilities and knowledge. Share your life with other people who have similar problems and interests.
Giving up or cutting down the amount of foods you love and crave will be difficult. Change slowly and gradually, and feel comfortable with your choices. You don’t have to experience hunger – fill up on fruit and vegetables.
Changing your daily routine to include regular activities may be difficult, but exercise will make you feel better – it’s as simple as that – and you’re never too old to start. People who walk, swim, or just do whatever they are able to do comfortably live more fulfilled lives.
Watching people in a park, enjoying sunsets and sunrises, walking in the rain and snow – there are so many simple, easy and free activities to enjoy that will make you feel good, healthy, and alive.
Losing weight can be difficult. It takes determination and perseverance. Every day will be a challenge, but when you succeed, you will find the rewards well worth the effort. Start now and don’t give up. Enjoy your life to the fullest.