By JOE DeLAUTER
Q.: Uncle Bruce is 81, lives alone and is a little bit on the pudgy side. But he walks fairly often, about a mile when he can find a neighbor or relative to go with him, and says he feels good for his age.
My husband isn't worried because he thinks his uncle is getting out three or four times a week, but I am concerned. I think he should be losing some more weight to maintain reasonable health as he ages.
He doesn't want to change his eating habits, but I wonder if we should insist on it.
A.: If Uncle Bruce is getting regular exercise and his doctor doesn't see a problem, I think you can put your mind at ease. Perhaps the best thing you can do for him is find someone who'll walk with him to keep up a regular routine, someone who also could help him with meal preparation.
According to a recent study, there is good news for seniors and middle-aged men who are physically active but do not lose weight. There is less worry about body mass index being a little high if someone is physically fit.
If your senior loved one maintains or improves his fitness level - even if his body weight has not changed or increased - he can reduce his risk of death, according to research reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The study was only of men but the researchers say it is likely to apply to women, too.
"This is good news for people who are physically active but can't seem to lose weight," said Duck-chul Lee, Ph.D., the study's lead researcher and physical activity epidemiologist in the department of exercise science at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health in Columbia. "You can worry less about your weight as long as you continue to maintain or increase your fitness levels."
Results of the study underscore the importance of physical inactivity as a risk factor for death from heart disease and stroke, researchers said. Researchers also found no association between changes in body fat percentage or body weight and death risk.
Among obese people, changes in body mass index might have a significant effect on death risks. So it's unclear whether these results would apply to severely obese people, Lee said.
Because the study was mostly done in white middle and upper class men, it's difficult to know whether the results apply to other racial and socioeconomic groups.
If he can't find a neighbor to go with him, ask Uncle Bruce to contact his local Home Instead Senior Care office.
A Home Instead CAREGiver could walk with him regularly.
A CAREGiver also could provide plenty of other support, such as food preparation, light housekeeping and medication reminders that may encourage him to lead a healthier lifestyle.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.
DeLauter's column also is published in the Sunday Lifestyle section.