As you get older, it can feel like it gets more and more difficult to stay in shape. Your metabolism slows, your body gradually loses strength, and the stresses of life seem to get in the way. But don't believe the myth that once you hit the big "4-0," everything falls apart. The great news is that you can still lose unwanted body fat and maintain great health for many decades to come. How? By following simple recommendations that can transform your health and well-being when you put all of them together. In this article, we'll share 15 ways to lose weight after 40—and how to keep it off.
Keep reading for the best advice for anyone in their 40s (or older) who wants to improve their body and enjoy incredible health in this decade and beyond.
Exercise is great, but it only lasts a few hours a week—yet how you spend the rest of your time massively impacts your health. Why? Because research shows that sedentary lifestyles lead to a higher risk of health problems, such as cancer and all-cause mortality, along with musculoskeletal diseases like osteoporosis and knee pain.
Needless to say, if you want to lose weight after 40, you should find simple ways to get more movement throughout the day. Take breaks to stand up and walk around. Use the stairs instead of elevators. It all makes a difference.
Eat real foods.
"Eat as many whole and minimally processed foods as you can," says Abby Langer, RD, an award-winning dietician and food expert. "It's important to eat to support muscle mass, bones, brain health, and immune system. All of these tend to decline as we age, and diet can help maintain them."
You don't need to eliminate junk food forever, but focus on whole foods like veggies, lean meats, fish, fruits, and grains. "These foods maintain health and weight better than ultra-processed ones," Langer explains.
Skip fad diets.
Extreme diets where individuals try to lose weight as fast as possible only work in the short term, explains Langer. "That means you're usually back at square one when you start eating normally again."
Instead, focus on healthy eating habits. You might not lose weight as fast as with fad diets, but it'll be much more sustainable so you can keep the weight off for good.
Even the smallest level of dehydration can impact your mood, energy, and health. That's why hydration is so critical for your health and overall well-being. Plus, research supports that bumping up your daily intake of H2O is linked to weight loss. Drink enough water so that your urine is a very light yellow, and avoid beverages with lots of sugar and artificial ingredients.
Taking time to walk—beyond your current exercise routine—does wonders for your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting your cardio fill helps you stay slim, enhances your heart health, boosts your mood and mental health, and even aids in digestion. Walk at least 15 minutes every day and you'll feel a big difference. And if you want to take things to the next level, start jogging or running!
One out of three Americans do not get the recommended amount of restful Z's that promotes good health, the American Sleep Apnea Association reports. Poor sleep can contribute to extra fat gain and lower physical abilities.
Try to get between seven to nine hours of good sleep every single night, as recommended by the Sleep Foundation. Follow good habits like avoiding electronics before bed and cutting back on caffeine and sugar in the evening.
Beat the stress.
Stress is linked to all kinds of health issues, including depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and weight gain, MedlinePlus explains. It's critical to find time every day to relax. Read a book, take a nap, take a walk, or try a meditation practice, which can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help you sleep better.
Cooking is one of the best habits for great health as you get older. You can select the best foods to support your health and avoid the fats and additivities that you get from restaurants or pre-packaged meals. Once you learn how to cook and cook more meals at home, you'll feel a big difference.
Get active hobbies.
To help increase your overall movement, add hobbies into your life that require physical activity beyond your normal exercise routine. For example, play tennis, go hiking, go dancing, go golfing and walk the course, or go on a relaxing bike ride a few times per week. These activities help you keep off the fat while maintaining your overall athleticism as you age.
As you get older, it becomes more important to build total-body strength to handle daily activities and prevent any injuries that come from age-related muscle or bone loss. Do resistance training a few times a week with free weights or your own body weight. But don't wait until it's too late—start training now, and you'll be able to maintain your strength throughout the decades rather than trying to play "catch up."
Spend time outside.
Natural sunlight is great for your overall health, including if your goal is to lose weight after 40. Research shows that just a few minutes per day can lead to stronger bones, better sleep, and healthy hormone levels. Researchers believe that anywhere from five to 15 minutes of sunlight is a solid and safe amount of time to reap the benefits and avoid health issues, WebMD explains. If you plan to be out in the sun longer—or you have skin sensitivities—cover yourself and lather up on sunscreen.
If you want to lose weight after 40, consider cutting back on alcohol or eliminating it altogether. "Alcohol-related illness and death—especially for women—are at an all-time high, and if you have health goals, alcohol is not going to help you achieve them," explains Langer.
Besides being empty calories, excessive alcohol can cause many health issues down the road, such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, mental health issues, and more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. "Cut down as much as possible and get professional help if you need it," Langer adds.
As you get older, your muscles and joints lose their flexibility. That's why it's so important to stretch so you can maintain good movement abilities and prevent injuries, the Mayo Clinic explains.
Thankfully, you don't need the flexibility of a gymnast; just add a stretching routine a few times a week. For best results, do them after your exercise session or daily walks so that your muscles and joints are properly warmed up.
The hardest part of diet and exercise isn't starting; it's persisting even when you're tired and feel unmotivated. The key to lasting changes is to do them consistently. If you're starting a new routine, always start slowly and gradually build up so you don't overwhelm yourself, get frustrated, and give up.
Find your tribe.
"Birds of a feather flock together" the saying goes. So if you want to have a long and healthy life, avoid people who are negative influences and keep you stuck to poor habits. Instead, surround yourself with people who are happy and healthy, and it'll motivate and inspire you to do the same.
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