Importance of Healthy BMI Range for Older Adults

Your body weight can have a huge impact on your overall health. If you are either underweight or overweight, then you can face all sorts of health conditions and be more vulnerable to certain diseases. The question is how do you calculate the ideal weight for your age and physique?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Body Mass Index (BMI) can be used to determine if a person has a healthy weight for their height. According to this globally recognised system, a healthy adult has their BMI ranging between 18 and 25. So, if your BMI is below 18, then you will be considered underweight. Similarly, if it’s above 25, then you will be considered overweight. If it’s above 30, then you will be placed under the obese category.

The following is the basic formula for BMI calculation if you are interested: weight (in Kg)/height x height (in meters). However, there are plenty of apps and online tools that can calculate BMI more easily.

Why is good BMI important for the elderly?

BMI

If your BMI is high, then you are more prone to health conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, hypertension, etc. Similarly, if your BMI is low, then it could contribute to poor health and shorter life expectancy.

Although the BMI norms dictate that your BMI should rest between 18 and 25, healthcare professionals say that for older adults, it’s better to have a BMI between 25 and 27 rather than below 25 as it can actually help in maintaining a good immune system and preventing conditions like osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), etc.

How to Keep Your Weight Up?

With age, you tend to lose weight through loss of appetite or illnesses, and if your BMI drops below 25, then it can be a cause for concern. If you don’t eat enough, your immune system gets weaker and you start to feel exhausted all the time. Plus, there are health risks like bone fracture if you fall, and deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals etc.

If the main reason behind your decreasing weight is a loss of appetite, then you can take the following steps:

  • Try switching to smaller meals which can be consumed 4-5 times a day rather than three traditional and large meals.
  • Include more calorie-rich foods in your diet like cheese, puddings, etc.
  • Add more ingredients to foods to increase calorie intake. For instance, you can add cheese to soups, use butter with chapatis and rice, and switch to milk coffee rather than black coffee.
  • Spend more time on exercising on a regular basis. It can greatly improve your appetite and also keep your heart healthy. If you find it boring, then maybe you can find an exercising partner or choose a location that makes you feel happier (like a park or garden).

How to Bring Your Weight Down?

If your BMI is above 27, then you should work to bring it down to prevent serious health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, etc. The following are some of the ways you can go about it:

Daily Walking

Daily Walking

Experts suggest that the elderly must walk briskly for at least 30-40 minutes every day. This can help you lose around 350-400 calories per session which removes excess fat from your body. Besides, walking is good for your bones and tendons, and it also improves blood circulation which is good for mental health.

Increased Fibre Intake

Fibre Intake

Including more fibre and roughage in your diet can help you lose weight quickly as it can make you feel full even though the content doesn’t contain a lot of calories. It can improve digestion and prevent constipation as well.

The recommended fibre intake is around 30 gms per day. Some good options include oatmeal, beans, and fruits like apple and papaya.

Sun Exposure

Sun Exposure

Vitamin D deficiency is linked to weight gain. Experts say that this is because it works with the hormone leptin that regulates hunger signals. So, when the Vitamin D levels are low in your body, you may feel the urge to overeat more frequently.

A large number of the elderly are guilty of spending most of their time indoors. This is why they don’t get enough exposure to the sun which is one of the best sources of Vitamin D. Not only does this have an adverse impact on their mood and mental health, but it can also cause vitamin D deficiency which affects their eating habits. So, it’s really important that you spend at least 30 minutes outside i.e. under the sun every day. 

Healthy Weight Means a Healthy Body

To make sure that you stay fighting fit even in your twilight years, keep an eye on your BMI. Whenever you slip out of the recommended 25-27 range, take appropriate steps to regain the adequate weight. Remember that if your body weight is healthy, you will be healthy.