Love Handle Exercises for Older Adults: Stay Fit and Healthy in Your Golden Years

Love handles! UGH!!

I’m not sure where this name came from since no one loves them.

Why?   Because as we age, they can be one of the most stubborn areas of fat in our body.

As someone who has struggled with love handles for most of my older adult life, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be to try to get in shape while dealing with this stubborn area of fat.

It feels like no matter how much exercise I do or how healthy I eat, those love handles just won’t budge.

This is mostly due to our metabolism slowing down as we age, which makes it more difficult to lose weight. YAY!!

This is why regular exercise is so important for older adults.

Love handle exercises can help to strengthen the core muscles and burn fat in the tummy area.

However, keep in mind that spot reduction isn’t possible when trying to get rid of love handles.

This means that doing endless crunches or side bends will not specifically target the fat in your love handles.

Another key factor in getting fit with love handles is to – yeah, sorry, but you know what I’m going to say – pay attention to your diet.

While exercise is important, it’s a well-known fact that you can’t out-train a bad diet.

I will share some effective love-handle exercises that are specifically designed for older adults, as well as other lifestyle changes you can make to help get rid of the lovely area of fat.

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Belly fat - Love Handle Exercises

Why Love Handles Develop

Love handles, also fondly known as muffin tops or spare tires, are pockets of excess fat that accumulate around the waistline.

They are a common problem for many people but can be even worse as we get older!

There are several reasons why we get love handles, including:

  • Poor Diet
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Hormonal Changes

Benefits of Regular Exercise

I’ve learned firsthand how important exercise can be to get that slimmer waistline.

But, it can also offer many other wonderful benefits for women over 60, including:

  • Increased muscle strength and endurance
  • Improved cardiovascular health.
  • Better balance and coordination
  • Enhanced flexibility and range of motion
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis

Exercises to Target Love Handles

To target love handles, I highly recommend including several different exercises that focus on the oblique muscles.

Here are some exercises that I love and find to be very effective:

Side Plank

The side plank is a great exercise for targeting the oblique muscles.

  1. Start by lying on your side with your elbow directly under your shoulder and your legs straight.
  2. Lift your hips off the ground and hold for 30 seconds and then release.
  3. Do a set of 5-10 before switching sides.
side plank

Bicycle Crunches

Bicycle crunches are a classic exercise that target both your abs and obliques.

  1. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head and your knees bent.
  2. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground and bring your left elbow to your right knee, then switch sides.
bicycle exercises
bicycles

Russian Twists

Russian twists are another great exercise for targeting the obliques.

  1. Sit on the ground with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lean back slightly and lift your feet off the ground (if this is difficult or causes any back pain, just leave our feet on the ground).
  3. Twist your torso to the right and touch your hands to the ground, then twist to the left and touch your hands to the ground.
  4. You can also hold a weight with both hands.
  5. Do 10-14 reps for 2-3 sets.
Russian twist
russian twisst

Wood Choppers

Wood Choppers are one of my all-time favorite exercises to do. 

  1. Begin by holding a weight or medicine ball with both hands.
  2. Twist your torso to the right and bring both hands and weight to one side of your body hanging down.
  3. Then twist your body to the left as you bring your arms and weight up above shoulder level.
  4. Bring the arm back down to your right side at the starting position.
  5. Do 10 reps and then switch sides.
  6. Try to do 2-3 sets on each side.
wood choppers
wood choppers

Standing Oblique Crunches

Standing oblique crunches are another great exercise especially if you have difficulty getting down to the ground.

  1. Start by holding a kettle bell or free weight in each hand. (If you only have one kettlebell or weight don’t worry you can just work one side at a time.)
  2. Bend sideways to the right side.
  3. Stand back up and switch to the left side.
  4. If you only have one weight or kettle bell just continue bending to one side for 10 times and switch hands and weights.
standing oblique crunch
standing oblique crunch

Incorporating these exercises into your workout routine can help you target and tone your love handles.

Remember to always consult with a doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Other Exercises to Help Decrease Love Handles

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

In addition to oblique workouts, including high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your routine can help you burn fat and target your love handles.

READ MORE: HIIT Workouts For Beginners Over 60 | What You Need To Know | Simply Aging Healthy

Here are a few exercises to try:

Walking or Jogging Interval

  1. Start with a 5-minute warm-up or walking or light jogging.
  2. Alternate between 30 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of walking for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Finish with a 5-minute cool-down of walking.

Mountain Climbers:

  1. Start in a plank position.
  2. Bring your right knee to your chest and back.
  3. Then, bring your left knee to your chest and back.
  4. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Jumping Jacks:

  1. Stand with your feet together.
  2. Then, jump and spread your legs while raising your arms overhead.
  3. Jump back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat for 30-60 seconds.

Strength Training

Finally, incorporating strength training into your routine can help you build muscle and burn fat, including in your love handle area.

Here are a few exercises to try:

Deadlifts:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and a barbell in front of you.
  2. Bend down and grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Lift it up to standing position. You can also use free weights or a resistance band. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
deadlifts
deadlifts

Squats:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms extended in front of you.
  2. Bend your knees and lower your body as if you’re sitting in a chair.
  3. Return to standing.
  4. Repeat for 10-15 reps.
goblet squat - is it safe to do cycling and squats on the same day

If you’re interested in different squat options – check out this article:  7 Easy Squats for Aging Knees.

Lunges:

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step forward with your right foot and bend your knee until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
  3. Step back and repeat with your left foot.
  4. Repeat for 10-15 reps on each side.
lift weights after knee replacement - avoid legs hurt cycling

For more lunge options check out my article on:  Best Modified Lunges for Seniors.

Flexibility and Balance Exercises

Flexibility and balance exercises are important for all of us older adults to maintain mobility and prevent falls.

While they don’t directly target love handles, they can still be beneficial for overall health and fitness.

Some examples of flexibility and balance exercises include yoga, tai chi, and stretching.

Aim to do flexibility and balance exercises at least two days per week.

Remember to always consult with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or injuries.

By incorporating these exercises into your routine and staying consistent, you can start to see a reduction in your love handles and an improvement in your overall fitness.

READ MORE: Why Should Senior Citizens Perform Balance Exercises: Key Benefits For Healthy Aging | Simply Aging Healthy

Safety Precautions and Tips for Exercise

As an older adult, it’s important to take extra care when exercising to avoid injury.

Here are some safety precautions and tips to keep in mind while doing love handle exercises:

Start Slowly

Before beginning any exercise routine, it’s important to warm up properly.

This can include light cardio, stretching, or foam rolling.

When starting a new exercise, start with low intensity and gradually increase as your body adapts.

Don’t push yourself too hard too fast, as this can lead to injury.

Maintain Proper Form

Proper form is important when doing love handle exercises.

Poor form can put unnecessary strain on your back, neck, and joints, increasing your risk of injury.

Make sure to keep your back straight, engage your core, and use slow, controlled movements.

If you’re not sure if you’re doing an exercise correctly, ask a trainer or physical therapist for help.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is important for overall health, but it’s especially important when exercising.

Dehydration can lead to fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramps.

So, be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after your workout. If you’re doing a longer workout, take a water bottle with you to sip on throughout.

READ MORE: Why Water Is Important For Older Adults: Benefits And Tips | Simply Aging Healthy

Fluid Pouring in Pint Glass

Nutrition and Love Handles

As someone who has struggled with love handles, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be.

While there is no magic solution to getting rid of love handles, I have found that nutrition plays a important role in reducing the appearance.

Here are some tips on healthy eating habits and foods to avoid to help you on your journey.

Healthy Eating Habits

Eating a balanced diet is key to reducing love handles.

Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. 

This can help you feel full and satisfied while giving your body with the nutrients it needs.

Here are some healthy eating habits to try:

  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up and prevent overeating.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will also help flush out toxins and help you feel full and avoid overeating.
  • Avoid skipping meals, as this can lead to overeating later on.
  • Practice mindful eating by paying attention to your hunger and fullness cues.
Healthy eating - Pre and Post Workout Nutrition is Important

Foods to Avoid

While it’s important to include healthy foods in your diet, it’s also important to avoid certain foods that can cause love handles.

Here are some foods to limit or avoid:

  • Processed foods, like chips, cookies, and candy.
  • Sugary drinks, such as soda and juice.
  • Alcohol.
  • Fried foods or fatty meats.

By making small changes to your diet and focusing on healthy eating habits, you can decrease the appearance of love handles and feel better overall.

Remember to be patient and consistent – the benefits won’t happen overnight!

Lifestyle Changes for Reducing Love Handles

While exercise is important, lifestyle changes can also make a big difference.

Here are some changes I’ve made that have helped me reduce my love handles:

Importance of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial for weight loss and reducing love handles.

Lack of sleep can lead to increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which can cause weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.

I try to get at least 6-7 hours of sleep each night to help keep my cortisol levels in check – this is still a work in progress for me!

Stress Management

Stress can also contribute to love handles, as it can lead to overeating and weight gain.

I’ve found that practicing stress-reducing activities like yoga, meditation, or even getting outside for a walk can help me manage stress and reduce my love handles.

By making these lifestyle changes, I’ve been able to reduce my love handles and feel more confident in my body.

Remember, it’s important to be patient and consistent with these changes, because it will take time to show results.

READ MORE: Self-Care Over 60: Simple Ideas For A Healthier Life | Simply Aging Healthy

Conclusion

Love handles can be frustrating as we age, but they’re not something that should discourage you from pursuing your fitness goals.

Through consistent exercise and a healthy diet, you can decrease the appearance of love handles and improve your overall fitness.

Remember that spot reduction is not possible, so it’s important to focus on full-body workouts and a balanced diet rather than just targeting the love handle area.

Including strength training exercises like squats, deadlifts, and planks can help build muscle and increase your metabolism, which can lead to a decrease in body fat.

In addition to exercise and diet, it’s important to prioritize self-care and stress management.

A good night’s sleep, hydration, and decreasing stress through meditation or yoga can all help you have a healthier body and mind.

Ultimately, to get a fit and healthy body is a journey that requires patience, consistency, and dedication.

With the right mindset and habits, you can overcome the challenge of love handles and achieve your fitness goals.

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