Today we are going to talk about exercise for over 60 and overweight people. There are a lot of seniors citizens who are overweight these days. This is obviously a bad thing since obesity and lack of exercise are detrimental to your health as you get older.
Many older people who haven’t exercised much in recent years and are overweight feel like they can’t exercise enough for it to matter or they can even think exercise might be dangerous for them in their current condition.
It’s easy to imagine you need to do a horrible grueling workout that lasts for hours and ends with vomiting every day. This is because shows like Biggest Loser and many others show a training program like this. Sure, they might be effective for losing fat but they are detrimental for your health.
There has even been speculation that the competitors in these shows are given steroids and fat loss drugs to make the change more dramatic and thus more suitable for reality TV.
In reality, any exercise you do will help you improve your health. If you are significantly overweight, there is no sense in trying to run half-marathons several days a week. Your joints, muscles and heart can’t simply take it.
Today we are going to look at simple, effective and sustainable exercises and routines older overweight people can do. Our suggestions are going to revolve a lot around strength training and low-intensity cardio because these both forms of exercise most overweight people can do comfortably.
Many overweight people are actually very good at strength training. This is because moving around the excess body weight and the caloric surplus that’s required to gain weight are both good for gaining muscle mass. We’ll talk more about that in a second.
Why strength training is good for overweight seniors
Strength training is the optimal form of exercise for obese people. This is due to the fact that it doesn’t require moving your body weight around for extended periods of time. Most cardio and things like running are out of the question because of the strain it puts on the joints, especially the knees.
Overweight seniors often have joint issues that prevent them even form walking any significant distance. If you are overweight and out of shape it’s also likely your cardiovascular health and conditioning are pretty bad. Any form of high-intensity cardio is potentially dangerous because it can put too much strain on your heart and it’s hard to gauge the intensity by feel.
Overweight and obese seniors can have good cardiovascular health and conditioning if they have been very active, unfortunately, this is rarely the case so it’s wise to start light with the cardio and focus on strength training first.
Strength training provides several beneficial effects for the overweight. It increases the heart rate enough to improve cardiovascular health, it strengthens the muscles, joints and ligaments gradually so they can handle more intense exercise.
Strength training also builds muscle mass which has several beneficial metabolic effects for overweight and obese. Muscle mass works as a storage for glycogen, a form of blood sugar. Higher muscle mass also increases your insulin sensitivity. This combination of added storage and higher sensitivity for storage is highly effective in lowering blood sugar levels which are too high in most obese people.
The increased muscle mass will also increase your overall metabolism. This means you will burn more calories in a day, allowing you to eat more or lose more body fat.
Strength training also lowers systemic inflammation and improves cognitive function, both extremely useful effects overall health especially in seniors.
Low-intensity cardio and fat loss
While strength training is extremely beneficial for health in overweight seniors, it’s not optimal for fat loss. You see, even though strength training does burn calories and increases metabolism, it doesn’t burn a significant amount of calories.
Even though diet is definitely the most important thing for weight loss in both seniors and younger people, exercise and activity are an important part of the puzzle. You need a caloric deficit (eat less than you burn) to achieve weight loss, this is a scientific fact that some people seem to refuse.
On the other hand, you need to eat enough to get enough nutrients and energy to keep your metabolism functioning. Unfortunately, as we age, our metabolism slows down and the number of calories we burn drops significantly. This can lead to a situation where you have to eat an unhealthily low amount of food to achieve a caloric deficit.
This is where exercise steps in. Daily low-intensity cardio combined with strength training will increase your metabolism enough to have a healthy diet with a caloric deficit which allows you to lose the excess fat. It’s a fine balance really.
For overweight seniors, there is no better way to increase daily activity than low-intensity cardio. Low-intensity cardio is exceptionally good for fat loss because it can be done for extended periods of time even with sub-par conditioning.
Time is the most important factor in how much exercise affects your overall daily metabolism. If you can do an activity on your feet for two to three hours, even if it’s very low intensity, it will likely burn much more calories than half an hour of strength training at the gym.
Most forms of low intensity are also very easy on the joints, so you can do it for extended periods of time even if you have joint issues. Especially low-intensity swimming is good for this.
Low-intensity cardio doesn’t have to consist of a specific sport or exercise, it can be anything that makes you active like hiking, yard work, gardening, home improvement, etc. The important thing is to find something that you enjoy doing for an extended period of time and gets your blood moving.
Exercises for older adults to lose weight
To increase your metabolism and to aid fat loss, these low-intensity exercises are very beneficial. They include low impact cardio like:
It’s important to remember that diet is the most important part of weight loss. You can reverse all the benefits you got form your exercise for fat loss by eating a single high-calorie food like a doughnut. You will still get other beneficial effects form exercise but you really have to focus on your diet to lose fat.
Strength training for seniors
You should focus mainly in strength training to improve your overall health and metabolism as an overweight senior. To get started you should check out these resources:
The most important thing is to start light and learn the correct movement patterns. Once you are confident you can perform the movements correctly you can gradually increase weight. This is how building strength and muscle mass works. You gradually increase the resistance over time to force your body to adapt to the increased demand.
Importance of an effective fat loss program
Besides doing strength training and low-impact cardio, it extremely important to get your diet in check. This is actually the most important part.
As I mentioned, it’s very easy to eat all the calories you burned with exercise with a simple high-calorie snack. Having a caloric deficit is the only thing that will result in fat loss over time, and this should be your main health priority if you are significantly overweight.
That said, extreme diets don’t work because they are not sustainable. Weight loss also requires you to exercise to maintain your muscle mass.
If you radically reduce your calories and don’t do strength training, you WILL lose muscle. This is something you don’t want as muscle is what keeps you healthy and functional.
The correct way to lose weight is a consistent slight caloric deficit, combined with sufficient protein intake and strength training to stave off muscle loss.
While this seems simple enough when put in one sentence, it’s, of course, a lot harder in real life unless you have good instructions.
That’s why I recommend getting a weight loss program that’s been proven to work and takes all the things I pointed out above into account. Here’s my recommendation for the best weight loss programs for seniors.
We hope you enjoyed these exercise tips for over 60-year-old overweight people. Getting started is the hardest part, exercise is not supposed to be grueling but something you enjoy and makes you feel better about yourself.
So don’t be afraid to get started, every day you wait will make your health worse. Just start light and experiment with what you like. Don’t get dis encouraged if you don’t like some exercises right away or feel like you can’t perform them correctly, it just takes time and experience.
To find the motivation to stick with exercise it’s imperative to find the exercises you enjoy and are good at. When you notice you are getting better each workout and losing weight, it will motivate unlike anything else. It’s all about consistency, do your daily exercise as a priority and you will soon see results.
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