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Easy Ways for Seniors to Lose Weight

By Eric Leckie, PT

Everyone at some point in their life will want to lose a few pounds to help improve their physical and mental health. The good news is, with the proper advice, losing weight isn’t all that difficult. People tend to make it more complicated than it has to be. It does, however, require a plan of action and the drive to follow this plan on a daily basis as losing weight will not happen overnight. You also want to find a way to enjoy the process while doing it in order to get long-term results.

Losing weight doesn’t have to be a difficult and time-consuming process. Not even in those senior years where weight is notoriously hard to lose. If you would like to shed some extra pounds for an upcoming holiday, family reunion, or just to fit those favorite pair of jeans again, here are my top 6 tips to help!

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Increasing Your Aerobic Activity

Aerobic activity includes any exercise that will get your heart pumping. Activities like swimming, cycling, jogging, trail walking or rowing are all great forms of aerobic activity. You should aim to achieve a combined total of 150-minutes of aerobic exercise each week. This can be broken down into five 30-minute walks, or five 30-minute swimming sessions each week.To make your workout more enjoyable, take a friend along with you.

For optimal results, aim to exercise at an intensity where you’re only just able to hold a conversation. A good way to determine whether you’re pushing yourself hard enough is to determine whether or not you could sing a song during your session. If the answer is yes, you’re not working hard enough.

Add in Resistance Based Exercises

The more muscle groups you work, the more calories you will burn. An easy way to burn more calories is to incorporate resistance-based exercise sessions into your weekly routine. This could be a body pump class, Pilates session, or step class. You could also try some resistance band exercises, like the ones in this video.

The Canadian National exercise guidelines recommend completing two resistance-based workouts every week for the best results. Not only will you be losing weight, you will also be increasing the strength of your muscles and joints at the same time.

Get More Sleep

This is an important (and easy) one! For some people, getting to bed at a decent hour isn’t easy. Whether it’s due to a hectic schedule or just bad habits. Another common problem is that seniors typically have trouble staying asleep. Unfortunately, for those looking to lose weight, sleep is extremely important. Not only is it good for our body physically, but staying up late encourages late night snacking and consuming more calories before bed which are big no-nos.

You should focus on getting 7- to 8-hours of sleep each night. This will help your body recover and prepare to burn more calories the following day. Try to set a consistent bedtime and wake up time every day to get you into a more productive routine. (Check out these Sleeping Tips for Seniors).

Eating Habits

As people age, they tend to adopt poor eating habits. This is combined with the natural aging process where your metabolism (your ability to burn calories) is decreased resulting in putting on excess weight. The secret to overcoming this is to avoid prepackaged food, avoid sugary and processed food and to avoid snacking multiple times per day.

I have found many of my senior clients to achieve success when they plan out their meals in advance, focus on cooking with fresh food and decreasing portion sizes. Plan out your meals a week in advance so that you only have to go to the grocery store once and you can focus on eating healthy meals every day. If you’re struggling to eat healthy, you can consult with a registered dietician for help. (To get started, here are some Everyday Foods All Seniors Should Be Eating).

Limiting Sedentary Behaviour

As people get older and retire from their jobs they typically spend more time being sedentary. Being sedentary includes any time that isn’t spent being active or exercising. While we don’t expect anyone, especially seniors, to be active every second of the day, it’s important to remember that more sedentary time leads to more weight and weaker muscles.

The national guidelines for physical activity recommends that seniors over the age of 65 should spend no more than 3-hours of screen time each day and should break up long periods of sitting with some light physical activity. This could be household cleaning, going for a walk or gardening to break up the time you spend being sedentary.

Explore Hobbies

As we get older, it becomes more and more important that we explore new hobbies and try new things, even if it’s just to get a little more social interaction. Whoever made up the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” didn’t know what they were talking about! Exploring new hobbies will not only help introduce you to new friends or reconnect with old ones, you’ll also be spending more time being active which can help with weight loss.

Examples of hobbies that will help you along your journey to losing weight could be gardening, playing outdoor sports, or joining a walking group. Take any interests you might have, and then find a way to take part in that activity in a social setting.

I hope you took something positive away from this article and have realized that it’s really not all that complicated when it comes to losing weight. Add is some of the points mentioned above into your current weekly routine to start shedding the pounds. Today is the best day to get started!

DPT, Doctor of Physiotherapy

Eric Leckie is a men's health Physiotherapist specializing in prostate cancer treatment. He completed his studies in Australia earning his Doctor of Physiotherapy from the University of Melbourne. He currently works in a private practice, in addition to owning his own Telehealth Physiotherapy clinic which focuses on treating men with prostate cancer.

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