We’ve all been there. You make an appointment for your annual physical only to become painfully aware that your progress on last year’s advice — lose some weight and get in shape — has been a bit…slow.
Unfortunately for all of us, the older you get, the harder it becomes to lose weight. But that’s no reason to give up. In fact, weight loss is just one of many health benefits you can look forward to when you become more physically active.
The Ins-and-Outs of Fitness and Older Adults
Understanding how your body and metabolism change as you age can help your efforts to manage your weight. As you age, muscle mass decreases and body fat increases. Since fat burns fewer calories than muscle, you’ll need fewer calories to maintain your current weight.1 Less muscle mass means slower metabolism, so losing weight is tougher, too.2
OK…that’s terrible news. But, it’s all good from here on out!
So What Can You Do About Weight Loss and Aging?
First and foremost, EXERCISE! You don’t have to run a marathon, but you do have to move. First, talk to your doctor about any precautions you should take or types of activities you should avoid.
The best approach for most of us is to start slowly. The National Institute on Aging recommends building up to at least 30 minutes of activity that makes you breathe hard on most or all days of the week. Every day is best. And, you don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Ten minutes at a time is fine.
It’s also important to include exercises to build muscles and strength, improve your balance, and increase your flexibility.
Let’s be honest, unless you’re living under a rock, you already know about the many benefits of regular exercise. If, like me, you still have a hard time getting motivated, it’s time for the heavy persuasion. Here are some additional, lesser-known, benefits of regular physical activity:
- If you don’t use it you might actually lose it. According the National Institutes of Health, inactivity can lead a loss of the ability to do things independently.
- Regular exercise does wonders for depression and anxiety.
- It’s a great way to get out and meet people, which is especially important since social isolation is one of the biggest problems facing older adults.
- Working out is great for your brain, especially aerobic exercise.
- Not only can regular exercise improve your sleep, it can also help put the zing back in your love life.
1 Mayo Clinic. Healthy Aging. Accessed June 30, 2017.
2 Weintraub, Karen. “Is It Harder to Lose Weight When You’re Older?” The New York Times. Accessed June 30, 2017.