It gets harder and harder to move about freely as we get older. This would be considered a normal part of aging. This normal part of aging can, however, be compounded if you are carrying excess body weight. Excess body weight is typically defined by having a body mass index of 25 or greater. Excess weight puts additional strain on your joints making you more susceptible to arthritis. Excess weight increases your risk of health issues such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
There are certainly changes that must occur as we get older, and we must learn to adapt to these changes. We can’t pretend like we are 25 when we’re 75, right?. Aging will change what we can do and how we do it, but dealing with some of the health consequences of being overweight or obese can lead to more significant loss of function. Loss of function takes away independence, which can be very distressing. The goal for most is to age as gracefully as possible to maximize enjoyment of the latter part of life.
The best way to combat loss of function from excess weight is avoid gaining weight by eating a healthy diet, managing your calorie intake and to keep moving. A healthy diet is typically described as one that provides beneficial nutrients (e.g., protein, vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, dietary fiber) and minimizes potentially harmful elements such as saturated fats, sugars and sodium. Let’s also talk about getting your daily dose of physical activity. Physical inactivity breeds more physical inactivity and physical inactivity leads to loss of function. When we aren’t engaging our muscles, they become weaker, making it harder to do the tasks of daily living.
If your weight is causing health issues, talk with your doctor or consider seeing a registered dietician about how you can safely lose weight. Start monitoring your daily activity by tracking your steps. Each day try to take a few more steps. Please remember that health improvement can occur at any age. It’s never too late to improve health and to feel better.