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The undeniable benefits of slimming down

We’re often told that losing weight is the key to a healthy life, yet for older people, slimming down can bring with it a new set of challenges.

If you’re over 60 and wondering why every slice of cake now seems to add two kilos, rest assured that you’re not alone. As you age, the metabolism that fired you through your younger years slows down, while the various hormones that kept your weight in check and regulated your muscle mass also begin to wane. The result is an unfair one-two punch of decreased muscle growth and increased fat production that, left unchecked, can lead to some unwelcome body transformations.

Yet there are a range of undeniable benefits to keeping off excess weight, not least of which is increased endurance, reduced wear on aching joints and being less prone to accidents. Add in a lesser risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease and you have a compelling case for keeping your weight under control.

But before you kick off your weight-loss program, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Age-related issues

First, when it comes to any new exercise and diet regime, discipline is important. One of the difficulties of losing weight in your later years is that the kilos you shed not only come out of your body’s stores of fat, but they also come out of your bones and muscle mass. Even worse, if you do lose weight and then put it back on, it’s much more likely to return as fat a few months down the track, leaving you less well off than if you never lost weight in the first place.

The upshot is that if you’re a little overweight, have a healthy diet and are at low risk of cardiovascular disease, then it may be better to focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle rather than shedding the pounds. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor before embarking on any attempt to slim down.

Obviously, the easiest way to lose weight is by not putting it on in the first place. But for retirees, this can be easier said than done.

A slower metabolism means you need fewer calories each day – a hundred less for each decade that passes – while higher levels of insulin resistance inhibit your ability to effectively process the sugars that you do eat.

This means that not only do you need to pay more attention to portion control, but that it’s also more important than ever to keep sugary treats to a minimum.

Keeping active

Exercise is the other vital strut of any weight-loss project. While many seniors focus on cardio activity such as walking, running and cycling, free-weight and resistance training could actually be more beneficial when it comes to weight loss.

Not only do these targeted activities help to build muscle and strengthen bones, but the increased muscle mass also acts to speed up your metabolism, making it more likely that you’ll lose weight.

However, it’s important not to overstress your body, especially if it has been a long time between gym sessions. Working with a personal trainer could help keep you safe, as well as making it more likely that you’ll follow through on your exercise plan.