Is Gaining Weight Part of the Aging Process?

Does getting old guarantee weight gain? While some health conditions do lead to weight gain, the consensus is that gaining weight is not necessarily an outcome of aging. There are many things a person can do to prevent weight gain when getting older.

There are entire societies where weight gain is not prevalent in aging populations. Aside from thyroid and hormonal conditions that may lead to weight gain challenges, the average healthy aging adult can implement many lifestyle habits leading to a healthy body weight.

A Sedentary Life

One of the challenges that adults face is the lack of physical activity. Driving a car in traffic, sitting in front of the computer and watching television for hours all lead to precisely the sedentary lifestyle that promotes weight gain. A sedentary lifestyle depletes the body of muscles. Muscles burn more energy. When the body is lacking in muscles, less fat is burned and fewer calories are needed. Another factor associated with a sedentary lifestyle is eating more and feeding cravings with unhealthy foods.

Regular Exercise

Gaining weight does not have to be an inevitable outcome of aging. A person can combat weight gain by incorporating daily exercise. The activity can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes per day. Other activities may include running, swimming, hiking or cycling. To build muscle, weight bearing exercises are key, such as lifting weights, yoga or Pilates.

Diet and Nutrition

Diet and nutrition are key factors when dealing with an aging metabolism. Experts recommend eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. For example, instead of eating three very large meals a day, you might split that up into four or five very small portions. This allows the body to quickly burn up the calories consumed versus storing large amounts of unusable calories from a large meal.

In addition, it is recommended that most of the calories be consumed in the earlier parts of the day. Eating large meals before going to bed leads to greater weight gain. Paying attention to what is consumed is also of great importance. When younger, it is easier to get away with eating fast food, junk food and low-nutrient foods. When getting older, the body needs greater nutrition to deal with aging organs.

The Aging Mentality

Older adults sometimes believe that weight gain and disease are a byproduct of aging. Alternatively, some adults believe that their bodies should be able to perform exactly as they did when they were younger. The reality is that there are changes that do occur with aging. Whereas the weight came off easily in younger years, it may take longer as an older adult to see the same results. It takes longer to build muscles and take off the pounds. The body also needs a chance to recuperate.

When getting older, it is important to acknowledge that the body is not what it used to be. However, this does not mean that weight gain is inevitable or that good health and fitness are not possible. Barring any serious health conditions, a fit and healthy body may be achieved and maintained by older adults through commitment to a healthy diet and lifestyle.


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