How to Lose Weight After Age 55

By Mario Calhoun

Your body's metabolism gradually decreases as you age, which increases the likelihood of weight gain. The rate of weight loss through exercise depends on your current body mass index (BMI), which determines what percentage of your body contains fat. The higher your BMI, the more fat your body probably has, and it will take you longer to shed pounds, according to Michael F. Roizen and Mehmet C. Oz, authors of "You: On A Diet." If you build muscle while trying to lose weight, your metabolism will rev up a bit, since muscle burns more calories than fat.

Get 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily. Exercise that raises your heart rate improves your heart's ability to pump blood, which improves circulation and lowers cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association. Cardiovascular activity includes brisk walking, bicycling, jogging, using a treadmill and swimming. If you don't have a time slot for a 30-minute exercise session, try three 10-minute sessions.

Lift dumbbells within your lifting ability. Strength training helps build muscle, but weights that are too heavy can lead to injury. At first, try lifting one dumbbell, 2 to 10 lbs., with each arm for 12 repetitions. Gradually increase the weight of the dumbbell as you are able to complete the repetitions without feeling fatigued.

Gradually increase your exercise sessions until you are able to work out for 30 minutes in one session.

Stretch for 10 minutes before and after exercising. Stretching warms up your body for the workout, and reduces the likelihood of soreness after the workout is complete.

Eat a healthy diet. Lean meats such as fish and skinless chicken, along with complex carbohydrates and plenty of fruits and vegetables help maintain a healthy weight. Complex carbohydrates include beans and whole-grain bread, pasta and cereal.

Avoid "empty calorie" foods such as sweets and white-flour products, which not only make you gain weight but also increase your craving for more of them.

Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it may keep you from feeling hungry.

If you crave something to eat between meals, have fruit or raw vegetables. The fiber in the fruit will make you feel full.

Increase your calcium intake to help keep your bones strong. Consult your physician to determine the appropriate calcium dosage.

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