Many people over age 50 suffer from middle-age spread. The metabolism slows down as you age -- and for women, the hormonal changes that take place around age 50 often make it worse. Excess fat at the waist is linked to several health problems including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A trim waistline after age 50 can help improve your appearance and promote good health.
Take part in aerobic activity such as brisk walking, dancing, cycling, swimming or jogging for at least 150 minutes a week. This helps control weight in general, which is the initial step in reducing fat around the waist. As fitness improves, try to increase aerobic exercise to an hour a day. Be careful to protect yourself from strains and injuries -- and wear the proper equipment such as a good pair of walking shoes. Regular exercise can help you sleep better, which also helps with weight control.
Strength training -- exercising with weights -- might also help fight flab around the middle. Harvard Health Publications notes that a University of Pennsylvania study that observed a group of overweight women for more than two years found that those who had an hour of weight training twice a week reduced body fat by 4 percent. You can train at a gym, with weights at home, or even use tins of food and books as weights. Strength training works best when used in conjunction with an aerobic exercise program.
Spot training alone won't bring your waist back. Targeted abdominal exercises like situps and crunches don't melt away fat, but will tone the abdominal muscles. Make them part of your general exercise program and increase the number you perform as you become fitter. The obliques -- the muscles on the sides and front of the abdomen -- are generally the muscles that make your waist too big. To tone the obliques, you can perform side bends, but do so without using weights. Using weights during side bends can result in thickening the waistline rather than tapering it.
Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables and limit your portion size. Cutting 500 calories a day from your diet can result in losing 1 pound a week since 3500 calories equal 1 pound. When eating out, don't feel obliged to finish your plate; instead, take some home for another meal. Avoid fried foods, eat more slowly and drink plenty of water. Do not drastically reduce your food intake. The USDA notes that for a healthy meal, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits -- and include smaller portions of lean protein and whole grains.