Show me a person who enjoys dieting, and I’ll show you someone who was born without a set of taste buds.
Maintaining a healthy weight, especially in the modern era where virtually any food we crave is available at either a local restaurant or the mega-grocery store chains, is tough to do at any age, and unfortunately gets tougher as we age.
Unfortunately, obesity is a (pardon the unsightly pun) growing problem in our country, with 20% of those ages 65 and older classified as obese, a number that is only expected to rise as more and more baby boomers join the official classification of senior citizens.
Gaining weight when we retire is as common as the famous “Freshman 15” that we gain upon going to college for the first time. Retiring usually means more free time on our hands, and often that time is filled up with extra eating and drinking.
Finding ourselves at home, or at least not at work, leads to extra snacking; a less-rushed schedule can mean more nights eating out at restaurants we enjoy, and the extra calories that come with it; and more socializing can mean more consumption of alcoholic beverages, which are notoriously high in calories.
The same as it is throughout our adult lives, the key to maintaining a healthy weight is a solid combination of healthy eating and moderate, safe exercise. When older adults become obese, their chances of major, life-threatening maladies and diseases escalate rapidly, with things such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure becoming very real threats.
Obesity also can restrict a senior’s mobility, which causes even more health issues, many of which are irreversible and will significantly affect one’s quality of life.
Some believe that exercising allows them to eat whatever they want, while others are of the mindset that a healthy diet means they never have to leave the couch. In a 2011 study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, a study of 100 obese seniors over a year found that while 12% saw improved physical function from weight loss, and 15% saw the same from exercise, a whopping 21% saw it improve from a combination of both activities.
Of course, exercise can be particularly tricky as we age, especially if you live in Texas where the mercury routinely starts hitting 90 degrees in May and stays that way well into September. With the Gulf Coast’s notorious humidity factored in, prolonged physical activity out of doors can be dangerous even for the most seasoned of athletes.
Being able to exercise indoors is crucial to your ability to get the physical production your body needs on a weekly basis. If you don’t have such a facility in your current location – like our five Conservatory senior living communities spread throughout the state – give serious thought to joining a local gym or YMCA to gain access to such a resource.
Exercising at a local gym, community center, or YMCA can not only give you a safe, cool place to work out, but can also be a great place to make friends and exercise buddies, helping each other get through the tough parts of committing to an exercise program, particularly in the beginning when it’s a tough routine to begin, or during periods of particularly inclement weather.
When it comes to maintaining your weight, the first thing to target is any sudden changes in your eating habits or the type of food you’re eating. This can include things that you have stopped eating in retirement – such as consuming coffee before heading to a job you no longer have. Little things like not drinking as much coffee can actually slow down your metabolism and make your digestion process not as effective.
The simplest techniques for maintaining or losing weight remain, however. Fruits and vegetables take precedence over any food group, and drinking several glasses of water, 6-8 on average, is a surefire way to keep all of your body’s processes working like a well-oiled machine.
Protein is still a huge part of your diet as you get older, but getting it from healthy alternatives, such as nuts, lean cuts of meat, and fish, is far preferable to red meats and anything fried. Your arteries will thank you for years to come!
While working at a job might end when we retire working to stay fit and healthy is a lifetime commitment. In order to live a full, healthy life, take your weights seriously, today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Aston Gardens At Parkland Commons is a premier senior living community offering multiple levels of care for seniors. Whether you’re seeking independent senior living, assisted living, or memory care options, Aston Gardens could be the perfect home for you or your aging loved ones. To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at 954.340.1908