Senior Exercise

Weight Loss Tips for Seniors

As people age, most will reminisce on the times in their lives when they were at their ideal body weight, and envy how great they once looked in their favourite outfit while flipping through old photographs. Losing weight as you age can become tough as your metabolism will naturally slow down and you won’t burn calories or fat like you have previously in your twenties.

Regardless of your age, it is most definitely possible to trim down to your ideal weight, you just have to understand your body and how to use it to work for you. We recommend that you discuss this first with your doctor to make sure that it is safe for you to exercise. Whether you’re looking to fit back into your favourite outfit or preparing for a special event, here are 3 tips to help seniors lose weight.

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Aerobic Exercise

In order to lose weight, you must engage in exercise that is going to help you burn calories. One of the best ways to do this is by increasing the amount of aerobic exercise you’re completing. Examples of this are: going for a walk with friends, taking a water aerobics class, going for a bike ride or even going for a run. The beauty of aerobic exercise is that it gets the heart pumping and blood flowing, it gets you outside in nature, and it can also be a very social activity that requires very little equipment.

To get the best results, the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends people aged 65 years and over should aim to achieve 150-minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise, in 10-minute bouts or more. Mark it down in your calendar, prepare your favourite workout outfit and then grab a friend and do some exercise together.

In order to help lose weight, you should be exercising at a pace where you’re breaking a sweat and finding it a bit more difficult to hold a conversation. Regardless of what your favourite aerobic exercise may be, get out there, and get the heart pumping to help burn calories and lose weight.

Strength Training

Strength training is the key to calorie burning, weight loss, and helping muscles stay strong with age. Everyone should do some kind of strength training regardless of age. Think of it this way, the more muscle groups you can work using weights and resistance equipment, the more fuel those muscle are going to need in order to work. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends that people aged 65 years and over should aim to complete two strength training sessions per week working the major muscle groups of the body.

Strength training uses either bodyweight or gym weights to add resistance to exercises. This makes the muscles work harder to complete even the most simple exercise. On top of burning lots of calories in the process, the more muscle you can build, the more calories you will burn while you sleep. Talk about an added bonus!

To get started with strength training, book in to see your physiotherapist or local personal trainer so that they can prescribe you a personalised strength training program to ensure that the exercises are appropriate and aren’t going to cause you any harm.

Limit Junk Food

Everyone loves junk food. The issue with eating junk food, particularly as a senior, is that our metabolisms slows down with age. This means your body is burning fewer calories standing still compared to what it used to burn when you were in your twenties. Have you ever reflected on your younger years and how you were able to eat whatever you wanted without having to worry about putting on extra weight?

This was possible because your metabolism was higher, so your body was burning more calories without having to do too much extra exercise. Seniors run into weight problems when they continue the same eating habits but their metabolism is slowing down. This means they’re putting on more weight than their used to. People over the age of 65 don’t have to give up junk food entirely, they just have to eat a lot less of it. Be mindful of what you eat and understand that your body is going to have to work extra hard to burn off the extra calories which means you’ll have to complete more strength training or aerobic exercise for the week.

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie, PT

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.

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