The United States is an unhealthy country. In addition to the opioid epidemic we’re struggling with, we are also in the midst of an obesity epidemic. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of over 30, and according to the American Heart Association, about 78 million adults and 13 million children in the U.S. fit in that category. Between 2007-2010, one-third of all adults aged 65 or older were obese, which is still less than the current national rate of 38 percent. Weight gain is no less a problem for senior citizens than it is for other demographics. Here are some tips and advice on safe and healthy weight loss for seniors.
Heard of the 80:20 rule? It’s the idea that losing weight is 80 percent eating right and 20 percent exercise, which makes sense. Let’s say you run five miles and burn 500 calories. Then you come home and gorge on lasagna and peanut butter muffins. There goes your morning workout in a single sitting. So, eating right is important. The healthiest foods on the planet are generally green – kale, peas, spinach, and artichokes. But to round out your diet, make sure you mix them in with plates of fruits, whole grains, and lean meats such as omega-3 fatty fish. Over time, eating right may save your life, because carrying excessive weight puts people at risk for health conditions like stroke, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, and liver and heart disease.
As we age, our health declines. Old injuries flare up, and we’re more susceptible to illness. Some of the most common ailments that seniors face include arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, and, obesity. Fortunately, a regular fitness regimen can help reverse many of those symptoms. Exercise trims our waistline, lowers our blood pressure, and strengthens our bones and joints. Usually, the exercises recommended for seniors are classified as low to moderate intensity. These include yoga, tai chi, walking, water aerobics, or senior sports or fitness classes. Whichever exercise you choose to do, make sure you enjoy it so you’ll look forward to doing it, rather than view it as a chore you have to get through.
This article would be remiss if it didn’t mention one often overlooked weight loss tip – sleep. No, you’re not going to shed pounds dozing on the couch. However, sleep helps regulate our weight because the longer we’re up, the more apt we are to grab a snack or two. Plus, when you’re sleep-deprived, the hormone that controls your fat cells, insulin, gets disrupted, throwing off your metabolism. Older adults (aged 65 and up) are supposed to get in seven to eight hours of sleep each night, so prioritize sleeping. Your days won’t be lively if your slumbers aren’t restful.
Depression in the Elderly
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, depression affects only 1 to 5 percent of the general population. Yet, it appears in 13.5 percent of the demographic pools of elderly people who need home healthcare and 11.5 percent in older hospital patients. Some prescriptions for seniors suffering from depression include medication, psychotherapy, joining a support group, or exercising. Maintaining a fitness schedule has been shown to boost one’s mental health. Clinicians consider working out to be a mild to moderate antidepressant. Exercise fights inflammation, promotes neural growth, and releases neurotransmitters such as endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals that make you feel positive and optimistic.
Staying active is just as important to your mental health as it is your physical health. Specifically, it helps you get into that virtuous cycle of losing weight, feeling good about yourself, and being motivated to lose even more weight.
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