Submitted by The Village at Mercy Creek
Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight is important at any age. For those over 60, maintaining a healthy weight isn’t always so easy. Slowing metabolisms; decreases in muscle mass, strength, and overall flexibility; chronic pain; lower energy levels; and underlying health conditions can all contribute to weight gain. Over time, this weight gain can lead to or exacerbate chronic conditions such as arthritis, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, and high blood pressure.
Healthy aging starts with healthy living, and that means regularly following a diet and exercise routine that’s right for you.
Healthy eating for seniors
You are what you eat. This golden rule is true at any age — particularly seniors. Here are some quick healthy eating tips for seniors looking to maintain a healthy weight:
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. Vegetables, particularly leafy greens like lettuce, kale, or collards are high in nutrients and low in calories, making them perfect for those looking to lose weight. Fruit, especially dark berries such as blackberries and blueberries are high in antioxidants and a great snack alternative for seniors who tend to have more of a sweet tooth.
- Don’t skip out on fiber. Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, beans, and nuts are generally low in calories and fat. They also make you feel fuller longer. Additionally, eating a diet rich in fiber can help control your blood glucose levels, lower cholesterol, and may even help prevent certain types of cancer.
- Eat plenty of lean proteins. Protein helps your body maintain its immune system and muscles, decreasing your chances of developing potential infections as well as your risk of falls. Incorporating lean proteins such as fish, chicken, tuna, or eggs into your daily diet can also help seniors lose weight.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Many seniors experience a decrease in thirst as they age, making them more susceptible to dehydration. For those looking to maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to always keep water with you to sip throughout the day and aim to drink 64 ounces per day.
Exercise for seniors
You’re never too old to start exercising. If you’re over 60, it’s important to always consult your doctor before starting any exercise regimen, particularly if you haven’t exercised much in the past, or if you have an underlying condition such as high blood pressure or arthritis, which may require you to alter your exercise routine.
Here are some exercise tips for seniors to keep in mind as they begin a new routine:
- Take it slow. Particularly if it’s been a while since you last exercised, be sure to take it slow. For some, that may mean only getting in five to ten minutes of exercise three times per week and, over time, working their way up to 20 to 30 minutes three per week, and so on, until they are able to get in 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new. Yoga and tai chi are great for helping the body stay strong while improving flexibility and mobility, but are often exercises seniors haven’t tried before. Don’t be hesitant to try something new or incorporate a number of exercises into your routine. In fact, mixing things up can help keep you from getting bored, making it more likely you’ll stick to regular exercise.
- Always listen to your body. No matter what your age or fitness level, it’s important to always listen to your body. For seniors in particular, going too hard too fast could lead to injuries that could keep you away from the activities you love and set you back in your efforts to lose weight. If something doesn’t feel right, stop.
- Commit yourself to a set exercise schedule. Exercise can be done anytime, anywhere, which ironically makes it so easy to put off. Create an exercise schedule for yourself and commit to it. Once you have an established routine, you’re less likely to put exercise off for another day.
The Village at Mercy Creek, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Chicago, is located at 1501 Mercy Creek Dr. in Normal. For more information about assisted living, call 309-268-1501, or visit them online at www.villageatmercycreek.org, or stop in for a tour!