Healthy Exercise and Diet Plans for Seniors

Lose Weight and Improve Your Health at Any Age

Multi-ethnic mature couple preparing food
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It’s never too late to get healthy and improve your quality of life. For some older adults, this means losing weight. But what is the best diet plan for seniors? And how do you start an exercise program if you've never been active?

Weight Loss Plans for Seniors

As an older adult, there are special considerations to take into account if you want to lose weight. Your lifestyle may have changed over the past several years, you may be living alone and you may have medical issues to consider. Your first step should be to discuss your weight loss goals with your physician.

The best diet for seniors is not always the diet program that is most popular or that is recommended for dieters in other age groups. It's important for seniors to maintain muscle mass, to find an eating plan that provides proper nutrition, and that does not interfere with medications or the management of your medical conditions.

For example, some commercial diet plans require that you subscribe to diet food subscriptions. Sometimes, these foods are heavily processed and may provide more sodium than you need if you are trying to manage hypertension. Your doctor will be able to sort through your specific health history and recommend an eating plan that is both safe and effective for improved health.

Your doctor may also be able to provide a referral so that you can meet with a registered dietitian. An R.D. can create a plan that fits your budget, your lifestyle, and your health needs. You might also get a referral to see a physical therapist. A qualified physical therapist can work with you to find exercises that keep your body strong and mobile.

A Healthy Eating Plan

Dr. Mike Moreno, M.D., author The 17 Day Plan to Stop Aging provides practical advice that can help you slim down and stay healthy. The practicing physician gives simple steps that you can take to lose weight and improve their daily eating plan.

"It’s typical for older adults to have less of an appetite as they age," says Moreno. This often occurs, he says, because people become more sedentary and it becomes harder to stimulate hunger. Moreno suggests that a healthy diet for seniors should consist of smaller more frequent meals.

Moreno also suggests that seniors be especially careful to achieve a diet that is nutritionally balanced but provides plenty of protein. For most adults, this means including a source of lean protein at every meal. Sources of protein might include eggs, egg whites, fish, chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of meat.

Fiber is another essential component of a good diet for seniors, says Moreno. Fiber helps to regulate digestion, prevents constipation, and may help with weight loss. Good sources of fiber include raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Moreno provides these tips for seniors who want to improve their diet:

  • Stay hydrated! Water is imperative for maintaining your energy and feeling good throughout the day.
  • If necessary, use supplemental products such as Ensure to help maintain a schedule of regular balanced meals.
  • Try not to eat by yourself. Find friends and family to share in meals.
  • Add exercise to your regular routine to help stimulate hunger.

Healthy Exercise

If you haven’t been active for most of your life, trying to start an exercise program in your senior years may seem overwhelming. But Moreno suggests that you focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t do. “Start simple,” he says. "Walking, for example, gives you every exercise benefit that you need."

To make the walking experience more enjoyable, Moreno suggests walking on flat ground (no hills) and finding walking partners to make the experience more social and pleasant. But if walking is too stressful on your joints, Moreno suggests swimming or performing stretching exercises in a seated position. “Do what you can to move your joints every day,” he says.

Best Tips to Prevent Aging

Even if you don’t consider yourself a senior just yet, you are still aging. “We start aging when we are born,” says Moreno. So anyone can take simple steps to look and feel better as the years tick by. Dr. Moreno suggests easy changes that you can make at any stage of your life to turn back the hands of time.

Moreno suggests these three steps to feel better and get healthy:

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your weight plays a key role in controlling the factors of aging. Get to a healthy number on the scale and stay there.
  • Stay hydrated with water. Your body is craving it more than you realize. Water is critical to maintaining your energy level and good daily health.
  • Move more. Find an activity that you like and that helps you to maintain a daily movement schedule and stick with it.

Small changes can have a big impact. Try a few of these healthy changes to improve your health and well-being.

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