Many factors contribute to weight gain after the age of 70. Behavioral reasons are obvious causes, with inactivity being the greatest cause. But what happens as we get older that causes our bodies to gain weight? As we get older, we not only tend to lose our muscle mass, but also the available human growth hormone our body needs to help our muscles grow and be strong is reduced. All men over the age of 40 should have their testosterone levels checked by their doctor every year, but this is especially true for men in their 70s. Testosterone is the driving force of muscle strength. If a man's levels are too low for what his body needs, muscle mass will go down and body fat will go up. Energy, enthusiasm, and motivation to be physically and sexually active are severely affected.
Women in their 70s also need to make sure their hormone levels are checked. Don’t be afraid of the term “muscle mass”! I’m not talking about becoming a man or training like a bodybuilder. As you age, it is imperative to maintain as much muscle mass (which translates to strength) as possible. This will keep your bones strong, will help battle osteoporosis, will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy amount of body fat, and increase your balance, which will help keep you from falling as you age.
Here is a list of things to do to decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass in your 70s:
- Hormone levels checked! Have your doctor check your hormone levels and listen to your body. What is normal for one person isn't always normal for the next person. You know when you feel like “you”.
- Strength training! All people in their 70s should do functional strength training and balance work 2-3 days per week to increase their lean muscle mass, bone density, strength, and balance.
- Cardiovascular exercise! All people in their 70s should do cardiovascular exercise 5-6 times per week for weight loss and 2-3 days per week for maintenance.
- Portion control! Eat 5-6 small meals per day to boost metabolism and give muscles the nourishment they need to be strong and healthy.
- Protein! Most seniors don't eat enough good quality protein. Protein should be eaten every meal to help keep muscles strong and healthy. See your nutritionist for help with how much.
- Sleep and Rest! As we get older it takes longer for our bodies to recover after strenuous exercise of any kind. Our bodies need ample sleep and rest. A minimum of 8 hours at night with a good nap each afternoon is a good thing!
With a good doctor to help you with hormone levels, personal training, good nutrition, and ample sleep and rest you will be on your way to losing unwanted body fat and regaining confidence in your body. You can regain your youth both physically and mentally. Getting older doesn’t need to be frightening or depressing. Let’s redefine your 70s and 80s and thrive!
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