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Published May 19, 2012, 11:30 PM

Bursack: Age not an excuse for excess weight

Dear Readers: Do you or a loved one use age as an excuse to not bother with taking off weight?

By: Carol Bradley Bursack, INFORUM

Dear Readers: Do you or a loved one use age as an excuse to not bother with taking off weight?

In a recent phone interview with Dr. Travis Stork of the television talk show “The Doctors,” I asked how we can encourage our aging loved ones to lose weight and exercise when they say it’s too late to do much good.

Stork responded with an amused chuckle, saying that he hears that excuse “all the time.” He then went on to say “I don’t care if you’re 90 ... it’s a medical fact that it’s never too late to change behaviors.” He added that diet and lifestyle changes had “almost an immediate impact on quality of life and that saying it’s too late is medically inaccurate.”

During the month of May, “The Doctors” is focusing on obesity and lack of exercise as important causes of many serious health problems. They’ve dubbed the month “Get Moving May.” Educating overweight viewers to reduce their weight through a healthy diet and sensible exercise is the goal.

Stork is aware that many people hate exercise and most people hate diets. He doesn’t advise extreme workouts unless the person does this type of exercise for enjoyment, and he strongly opposes fad diets or diets that limit nutrients.

What does he advise?

Walking. Stork says that if people walk briskly for 10 minutes after every meal they are getting their 30 minutes of exercise without drastic change.

Mindset. Stork says we should find a type of exercise we enjoy and can sustain. Our mindset is important so we need to set realistic goals and care about ourselves enough that we want to feel better and be healthier. Walking or bicycling (Stork’s exercise of choice) can include friends and family if the social aspect keeps people motivated.

Standing. We need to stand more and sit less. Pace while we use the phone. Consider standing in line at the grocery store exercise. Stand to visit with your neighbor. Just being on our feet burns significantly more calories than sitting.

Diet. Don’t try to change everything at once. Work with food preferences. Stork has midwestern roots and noted his preference for “meat and potatoes” rather than vegetables. He mentioned that he and his fiancé puree vegetables and then add them to marinara sauce for their pasta.

Water. Stork suggests that we drink water before meals. He said that it’s been shown that people who drink a glass of water before eating will consume 20 percent fewer calories during the meal.

Summarizing Stork’s advice is simple. Take baby steps toward increasing exercise and diet and you’ll gain immediate health benefits. If you then build on your efforts you will enjoy long-term health benefits.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carol@mindingourelders.com.