There is lots of good evidence that supports not trying to lose weight as you age. Malnutrition and loss of muscle mass often follow loss of weight. That’s why it’s more important to concentrate on personal fitness. This will lead to maintaining good muscle tone which is important for mobility, balance and strength as well as general health. (See our articles on balance, strength and mobility)
Don’t worry about the weight, make sure you do your regular and frequent exercise. Exercising with friends is a good way to become inspired. Sometimes doing exercise as prescribed by your GP or physiotherapist is also a motivator. Make a special time for your exercise. If you haven’t been doing much exercise recently then make sure you read our Basic Walking Program article. This will introduce you gradually to doing more exercise so that you will remain motivated and get fit at the same time. If you are worried about doing the exercise, see your GP or physiotherapist.
Exercising doesn’t mean you can forget about a good diet though. This will help in achieving fitness. Fresh, seasonal food without too much fat, sugar and salt is very good for body and brain. Exercise is good for brain health too. So get out there with the walking group, the swimmers or the Pilates group. Tai chi helps fitness and balance and is good fun also.
Many older people who are admitted to hospital are found to be malnourished and dehydrated. You don’t have to be thin to be malnourished. These problems will lead to the person staying in hospital for longer than people without malnutrition. We have been and still are, as a society, concerned about obesity and we should be, but this has meant that we are often not worried when an older person has unexplained weight loss. In fact losing weight is not normal in old age, even if lots of people do. It can be an indication of something else going on that needs attention. Weight loss in older people can lead to frailty and frailty can lead to many physical problems like falls.
So let fitness be your focus and don’t worry too much about the fatness!
Learn more about fitness over fatness in Episode 2 of The Better Ageing Podcast:
Listen on your favourite app: