Are You Resolving to Lose Weight in the New Year? Here’s Some Motivation
It’s no secret that Americans are overweight. And seniors are gaining weight at rates faster than most Americans. According to a poll conducted by Gallup and Healthways, the obesity rate among seniors increased by four percentage points during the years 2008 to 2014 – from 23.4 percent in 2008 to 27.4 percent in 2014.
The necessity for exercise increases as we grow older
The older you get, the more important exercise becomes. Seniors need to exercise more than their younger counterparts because they are at greater risk for the diseases that exercise can prevent, which include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, among others. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise protects the body against chronic diseases, improves mood and lowers your chance of injury.
A little effort makes a big difference
You don’t have to live at the gym to lose weight and improve your health. Even moderate exercise provides benefits. A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that as little as 30 minutes of aerobic exercise (which can be as simple as walking) three times a week may reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 60 percent.
Benefits of losing weight
Here’s just some of the things you’ll gain when you lose those excess pounds.
- You’ll lower your risk for many diseases
As we discussed above, obesity raises your risk for a variety of deadly diseases. Cutting the weight can, in many cases, immediately reduce your risk for these diseases.
- You’ll lower your risk of injury
Not only does carrying extra pounds increase your risk of disease, it nearly doubles your risk of injury. A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that 85 percent of workers injured on the job were overweight.
- Your memory may improve
According to several studies, losing weight may improve your memory. In one study, obese people were divided into two groups – one group had gastric bypass surgery, the other didn’t. After 12 weeks, both groups took a set of memory tests, similar to ones taken before the study began. The surgery patients, who lost an average of 50 pounds, showed improvement in a number of cognitive abilities, including memory. Those who had not had the surgery showed a mild decline in memory. Additionally, obesity has been shown to be one of the risk factors in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Now that you know the benefits, here’s some ways you can help maintain a healthy weight.
Get up off the couch, your office chair, or whatever is keeping you indoors and get out in nature. Not only will the walk (or the gardening) burn calories, according to the Harvard Health Letter, you’ll also get more vitamin D, your mood may improve and you may heal more quickly.
Become conscious of bad habits
Do you unconsciously grab a snack on your way to work in the morning? Or first thing when you come home at night? Do you use the car to drive somewhere that is within walking distance? Simply being aware of unconscious habits can help you recognize them and choose a healthier option. So when you get home from work, instead of grabbing that snack, take the dog for a walk, mow the lawn or check your email.
Get a good night’s sleep
According to the National Sleep Foundation, inadequate sleep lowers our metabolic rate, leading to weight gain. And a lack of sleep can hinder the ability of the frontal lobe of the brain—which governs decision-making and impulse control—to perform at its best, making it harder to resist food cravings. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who were sleep-deprived tended to eat more late-night snacks and were most likely to choose high-carb snacks.
Even those with mobility challenges can participate
The good news is that exercise can be done by almost everyone. Many people living a chronic condition may restrict their physical activity, either because it’s painful or under the mistaken belief that exercise will worsen their condition. The truth is that exercise is one of the best ways to strengthen bones, increase flexibility and ease joint pain. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise protects the body against chronic diseases, improves mood and lowers your chance of injury. Tai, chi, yoga, aerobic exercises and even strength training can all be done by those living with chronic pain and even those in wheelchairs.
This article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Speak to your doctor and/or a registered dietitian if you have questions about your nutritional needs.