Seniors put best foot forward to fit weight loss PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 29 May 2009 11:50
MILWAUKEE, WI - Wednesday was National Senior Health and Fitness Day. It highlights the importance of a healthy lifestyle, which can determine quality of life for older adults.
Strength, energy, and independence, which can be very meaningful to seniors, are benefits gained through healthy eating, wellness, and fitness.
Gaining weight can aggravate the natural problems of aging and, logically, losing weight can solve some of those problems.
Joan Savage, a 74-year-old grandmother of 33, joined TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) two years ago.
Savage lost 86 pounds after joining TOPS, the nation's original nonprofit weight-loss support organization.
"I exercise 45 to 90 minutes a day. I use our treadmill and I do the three-mile power walk. My cholesterol is down to 145. I love my new healthy body.  I am only 10 pounds heavier than I was at age 19," she says.
According to Dr. Ahmed Kissebah, M.D., Ph.D., and TOPS' medical advisor, older adults face an increased risk of gaining weight because they tend to be less physically active than they were in previous years. With age, muscle mass decreases, metabolism slows, and fewer calories are needed.
No matter how slight an exercise may seem, it can benefit older adults. Stretching and resistance movements can preserve muscle tone and mass, boost circulation, and aid mobility. Resistance exercises, including water exercises, can help prevent osteoporosis. Walking, even slowly, helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other diseases.
"I tell people it's never too late to start exercising," says Amy Goldwater, M.S., senior fitness educator and former body-building champion. "Even if they're just doing chair aerobics, they're doing something. Any movement is better than no movement."
Along with fitness concerns, older adults should be aware of other health issues, such as osteoporosis, which is thinning of the bones. Steps to mitigate this condition include getting between 1,200 and 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily, performing weight-bearing movements such as walking, and taking vitamins.
Health concerns for seniors also can include iron deficiency, lactose intolerance, and digestive issues caused by a lack of fiber. To lessen these risks, older adults should eat balanced meals that include protein, choose foods rich in Vitamin C, switch to lactose-free milk if lactose-intolerant, eat plenty of dark green vegetables, and exercise regularly.
Seniors should always consult with their doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
TOPS was founded more than 60 years ago to champion weight-loss support and success. Its philosophy combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness education, and support from others at weekly chapter meetings.
The program has about 170,000 members in nearly 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada, including chapters in Bowling Green and Wayne, and several chapters in Europe.
Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. View or call (800) 932-8677 for more information.

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