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Losing Weight After 50 is More About Exercise than Diet, Study Says

Why is losing weight after 50 so tough? It’s a question we all end up asking ourselves at some point. A few years ago, I decided that, when it came to my weight, enough was enough. So, like many boomers, I systematically went through all of my cupboards, removing all of the white bread, biscuits and chocolate. Trust me when I say it was a traumatic experience. I even started drinking green shakes and made my own protein bars, which were surprisingly delicious, after the 137th attempt.

There was just one problem. After months on my new diet, I hadn’t lost any weight. True, I felt healthier – and, I’m sure that my body was better off on the inside. But, on the outside, I was disappointed by the progress that I had made.

In desperation, I signed up at my local gym and committed myself to doing jazzercise 3 times a week. What a difference! In just a month, I looked and felt so much better. I lost almost 10 pounds in 4 weeks. Admittedly, I’m not going to be entering any bikini contests anytime soon, but, I was definitely pleased by the results.

Talking with other boomers, I’ve heard similar stories again and again. “Why is it…” people ask, “… that even though we eat better as we get older, we still gain weight?”

Well, according to a new study, the answer may be that our bodies just respond better to exercise than dieting as we get older.

Is Exercise the Key to Losing Weight After 50?

In a recent study, scientists from the Department of Exercise Science and the University of South Carolina, investigated the lives of 5,000 Americans, aged 20 to 70. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they examined information about the subject’s diet, body mass index and weight.

The researchers concluded that people gain weight as they age, not because their diets get worse, but, because they become less active.

As reported in the Huffington Post, lead researcher Russell Pate said, “Our study points to the very important impact of physical activity on weight status in U.S. adults, and in particular it points to the critical role of the age-related decline in physical activity on the increasing rates of overweight and obesity that we see with aging.”

Does Exercise Have to Be Boring?

The most obvious reason that many older adults are out of shape is that we simply don’t enjoy exercising. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you are a competitive person, why not consider boxing, aikido or a team sport, like soccer? In addition to helping you lose a few pounds, going head-to-head with other people can be excellent way to deal with the stress in your life.

If, like me, you love to dance, why not give Zumba or Jazzercise a shot? If you don’t feel comfortable attending a class in person, you can always start by ordering a DVD and shaking your butt in the comfort of your living room. Or, if you want something a bit more relaxing, why not try gentle yoga?

Another option is to lace up your hiking boots and head out into nature. Personally, I love listening to audiobooks while I walk, but, you will burn just as many calories listening to the birds singing, if that’s more your thing.

Whatever you do, get moving!

Has your diet improved as you have gotten a little older? Have you found that eating better no longer seems to help you to lose weight? What do you think is the key to losing weight after 50? Please join the conversation.


Here’s a short video that I recorded on losing weight after 50. I hope that you find it useful.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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