If you’re a senior trying to lose weight, two of your biggest challenges most of the year are likely a slower metabolism and declining muscle mass. However, when the fall and winter months arrive you may find yourself with another potential obstacle when it comes to keeping the extra pounds off: the temptations of the holiday season.
While some seniors struggle to gain weight, a growing number of those 55 and older have the opposite issue. In fact, a 2012 study in the Journal of American Medicine found that about 70 percent of adults over the age of 60 are overweight. Recently, the Centers for Disease Control reported that one third of seniors 65 and older are significantly overweight, putting them at risk for a number of serious health conditions including heart disease and diabetes.
If you’re looking to keep the weight off this holiday season there’s good news: With a little planning ahead, a few brisk walks, and an extra dose of willpower, you don’t have to gain weight this holiday season. Below are simple and easy ways to feel and look great without having to loosen the belt buckle.
Walk for Weight Control. A 30 minute walk can burn up to 200 calories and help curb holiday stress. In fact, according to a study from California State University, Long Beach, people who walk on a regular basis are in better moods overall thanks to higher endorphin levels.
Consider making walking a part of your exercise routine all year long. The National Institute on Aging suggests seniors walk on a regular basis to alleviate arthritis, improve heart health and help curb anxiety and depression.
Try a Yoga or Tai Chi Class. If wintry weather puts a damper on your walk, look for a gentle yoga or tai chi class designed for seniors. Many studios and community centers offer classes for people 50 and older. These practices are a great option for low impact exercise and much needed relaxation over the holidays.
Never Show Up Hungry. Before arriving at a holiday soiree, eat a healthy, low calorie, high fiber snack to avoid extra trips to the buffet table. If you don’t have a chance to eat beforehand, drink a large glass of water before filling up your plate.
Just Say “No.” Party hosts want their guests to be happy, but the fact is that we need fewer calories daily as we age. When your well-meaning host brings a tray of cookies around for the second time, consider it an opportunity to practice self-control and will power.
Try this: Researchers at Tufts University recommend gently tapping the fingers of one hand on your forehead once every second, then wait 20 minutes before acting on an impulse or indulgence.
Have Your Cake And…. Instead of denying yourself a favorite dish this year, try portion control. Fix a small plate of the foods that you crave or limit your serving to just a few small bites. Savor the experience: chew your food slowly and wait a few minutes after every bite.
Get Into the Spirit. This year, let your food cravings take a back seat and get into the true spirit of the holidays by spending time with loved ones far and near. Take time to slow down and be grateful for the New Year and new beginnings without gaining unwanted pounds.