What You Stand to Gain by Losing Weight
February is American Heart Month. As we discussed in this post, maintaining an appropriate weight is one of the best ways to reduce your risk for heart disease. Losing unwanted pounds can also increase your health in other ways. It’s no secret that carrying extra weight can be harmful. You’ve undoubtedly heard the about the dangers before. But it can’t be said often enough – those extra pounds come at a high price. They increase your risk for a multitude of diseases and conditions.
And yet, obesity is pervasive in American society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of adults age 65 and older were obese during the period from 2007-2010. Since that time, obesity rates for all Americans have increased – and obesity among older adults has risen most of all. According to a poll conducted by Gallup and Healthways, the obesity rate among seniors increased by four percentage points during the years 2008 to 2014 – from 23.4 percent in 2008 to 27.4 percent in 2014.
So, is there any good news? Yes! Most people can benefit from a weight loss program, which may include exercise and making healthier dietary choices. Here’s just a few ways you may gain when you choose to lose.
You’ll lower your risk for many diseases
According to the CDC, obesity increases your risk for numerous diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some cancers, including breast, colon, kidney and liver
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Mental illness, including depression and anxiety
Cutting the weight can, in many cases, immediately reduce your risk for these diseases.
You’ll lower your risk of injury
Not only does carrying extra pounds increase your risk of disease, it increases your risk of injury. A study conducted by Ohio State University showed that 26 percent of obese men reported injuries over the course of a year, compared to 17 percent of normal-weight men. Nearly 22 percent of obese women experienced injuries, compared to 12 of their normal-weight counterparts. Underweight participants had the fewest number of injuries. Overexertion and falls were the most common injuries reported.
Your memory may improve
According to several studies, losing weight may improve your memory. In one study, obese people were divided into two groups – one group had gastric bypass surgery, the other didn’t. After 12 weeks, both groups took a set of memory tastes, similar to ones taken before the study began. The surgery patients, who lost an average of 50 pounds, showed improvement in a number of cognitive abilities, including memory. Those who had not had the surgery showed a mild decline in memory. Additionally, obesity has been shown to be one of the risk factors in developing Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll sleep better
Obesity raises your risk factor for sleep disorders, including apnea, one of the most serious. Sleep disorders generally result in a lack of restful sleep, which produces more of the hormone ghrelin, which makes you hungry. The hungrier you are, the more you eat, which, in turn, decreases your chance of having a good night’s sleep – a vicious circle.
You’ll have more energy
Those extra pounds make it harder for your heart to get blood to every part of your body and for your body to move extra pounds from Point A to Point B. Just imagine having to carry a 30-pound sack of flour around all day and you’ll understand what we mean. Shedding those pounds means your body doesn’t have to work so hard, freeing up all kinds of energy – to play ball with the grandkids, to exercise more, to do whatever your heart desires.