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Healthy Eating

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and well-being.

As you grow older, if you continue to eat the same types and amounts of food but don’t become more active, you’ll probably gain weight. That’s because metabolism (how you burn the calories you eat) can slow down with age.

The secret to maintaining a healthy weight is to balance “energy in” and “energy out.” Energy in means the calories you get from the food and beverages you consume. Energy out means the calories you burn for basic body functions and during physical activity. Check your weight once a week. Then you’ll know whether you are balancing the calories in and calories out or whether you need to be more active.

How Active Should You Be to Keep a Healthy Weight?

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The answer is different for each person, but generally:

  • To keep your weight the same, you need to burn the same number of calories as you eat and drink.
  • To lose weight, burn more calories than you eat and drink.
  • To gain weight, burn fewer calories than you eat and drink.

Other Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight

How Much Physical Activity?

Although any amount of regular physical activity is good for you, aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Unless you are already that active, you won’t do that much all at once—10-minute sessions several times a day on most days are fine.

People over age 65 should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions will allow. Doing anything is better than doing nothing at all.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer. Think about the kinds of physical activities that you enjoy—for example, walking, running, bicycling, gardening, housecleaning, swimming, or dancing. Try to make time to do what you enjoy on most days of the week. And then increase how long you do it, or add another fun activity.

Balancing Calories

Balancing the calories you eat and drink with the calories burned by being physically active helps to maintain a healthy weight. Check your weight once a week. Then you’ll know whether you are balancing the calories in and calories out or whether you need to be more active.

Balancing Calories (Energy) In and Calories Out
Energy in is equal to energy out Maintaining Weight
Your weight will stay the same when the calories you eat and drink equal the calories you burn.
Energy out is greater than energy in Losing Weight
You will lose weight when the calories you eat and drink are less than the calories you burn.
Energy in is greater than energy out Gaining Weight
You will gain weight when the calories you eat and drink are greater than the calories you burn.

Learn more about exercise and physical activity from Go4Life, NIA’s exercise and physical activity campaign. Go4Life offers a variety of free, evidence-based resources for older adults in one convenient spot. 

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information on Maintaining a Healthy Weight

President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition
1-240-276-9567
fitness@hhs.gov
www.fitness.gov

U.S. Department of Agriculture
1-202-720-2791
www.usda.gov

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
1-800-860-8747 (toll-free)
1-866-569-1162 (TTY/toll-free)
healthinfo@niddk.nih.gov
www.niddk.nih.gov

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
1-301-592-8573
nhlbiinfo@nhlbi.nih.gov
www.nhlbi.nih.gov