The Importance of Maintaining a Healthy Weight for Older Women

With stick-thin Hollywood celebrities, diet commercials and weight-loss TV shows in our faces every day, it's hard to judge what a healthy body should look like -- especially once you're older. Yet with health problems on the rise as you age, it becomes even more important to eat well, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight that is neither too heavy or too light.

Cut Back On Calories

Unless you're an especially active adult, you need to alter your eating habits as you get older and start consuming less calories. According to nutritionist Anne Collins, between the ages of 30 and 70 years, muscle tissue shrinks on average by about 30 percent in most people. The less muscle we have, the fewer calories we need, and any extra that we take in will be stored as fat.

Collins notes that calorie needs are highest during our mid-20s, and then they reduce at about 2-4 percent every 10 years. For example, if you need about 2500 calories a day at 20 years of age, then by 50, you only need about 2200-2350 calories.

BMI

Several professional institutions have released charts to gauge a woman's ideal weight -- and most of them only vary by a pound or two. In addition to seeing where one measures up by the number on the scale, the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute advises women to take their body mass index (BMI) into consideration when determining how healthy they are. BMI calculates the amount of fat you carry, which is often more indicative of health -- as muscle weighs more than fat.

To determine your BMI, multiply your weight times 703 and divide that number by your height in inches. Repeat the division with your height and you'll get your body mass index. According to LiveStrong.com, the normal BMI for older women ranges between 18.5 and 24.9. Older women with a BMI between 25 and 30 are considered overweight and you are officially obese when your body mass index is over 30. Waist SizeBefore we get to the actual scale, there's one more number to look out for when judging the normalcy of your body: waist size. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute warns that carrying excess weight around your middle puts you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A waist size larger than 35 inches on an older woman is cause for concern.The ScaleNow we get down to the numbers youre probably most familiar with: actual weight. As not all women are built the same, people's ideal weights vary depending on their frame size -- even if they're the same height. HealthCentral.com says that body frame size is determined by a person's wrist circumference. To approximate, a 6-inch wrist means a medium frame. Wrist size below 6 inch is considered small frame, while a value higher than 6 inch is considered a large frame.
For example, a healthy weight for a 54 woman with a medium frame is between 116 and 131 pounds. The range shifts by 4-5 pounds between every inch in height. Ideal weight for women table (Buzzle.com)Women Small Frame Medium Frame Large FrameHeight4'9" 90 to 97 94 to 106 102 to 1184'10" 92 to 100 97 to 109 105 to 1214'11" 95 to 103 100 to 112 108 to 1245'0" 98 to 106 103 to 116 111 to 1275'1" 101 to 109 106 to 118 114 to 1305'2" 104 to 112 109 to 122 117 to 1345'3" 107 to 115 112 to 126 121 to 1385'4" 110 to 119 116 to 131 125 to 1425'5" 114 to 123 120 to 136 129 to 1465'6" 118 to 127 124 to 139 133 to 1505'7" 122 to 131 128 to 143 137 to 1545'8" 126 to 136 132 to 147 141 to 1595'9" 130 to 140 136 to 151 145 to 1645'10" 134 to 144 140 to 155 149 to 169Stay AwareA womans ideal weight will vary based on her friends, family and lifestyle, but determining her healthy weight is a science. First and foremost: be aware of whats normal for you. Adjust accordingly if you have bikini dreams -- but an ideal weight should be a healthy weight. See what others have to say about this story below or leave a comment of your own.Barbara Sharnak is an entertainment/lifestyle producer and writer. She's worked for Clear Channel's Kiss 108 FM, Sky TV, WebVet.com and currently works as an Associate Director at United Stations Radio Networks.
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