Carrying excess body fat can lead to a multitude of health issues, especially for seniors. But a slower metabolism and less active lifestyle mean those excess pounds can add up faster than they used to. If you’re looking to lose some weight and get healthier, here are six steps you need to take before you begin.

Schedule a Checkup Before Your First Workout

Before you jump into a new workout or diet routine, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor. This is a crucial step if you suffer from heart disease or any preexisting conditions. Your doctor can make sure you are healthy enough to start your fitness plan. He or she can also make recommendations for activities you can take part in and those you should avoid, if you have any health issues.

Be Careful When Cleaning Up Your Diet

A healthy diet can have more impact on weight loss than exercise. Just be careful when you start cutting out foods. It’s tempting to eliminate all fat from your diet, but studies show that healthy fats, such as those found in avocados and fish, can actually help you take off more pounds, and keep you healthy. Instead, think about cutting out added sugar and starchy carbohydrates, like juices and white bread. Switch to a natural sweetener and swap out those carbs for fiber-rich options, such as whole-wheat bread. Reducing sugar is a surefire way to reduce your waistline, and it will help lower your risk for diabetes.

Create Comfortable Goals

Our metabolism slows as we get older, so the weight may not come off as fast as it did when you were younger. Set realistic goals for yourself before you begin to prevent frustration later. Most older adults can safely lose one to two pounds per week, but that range can vary. Overdoing it on exercise or restricting your diet won’t lower your weight any faster. In fact, you could cause a serious injury or damage to your health by trying to lose too much weight too fast. Stick to healthy goals and be patient as you settle into your new fitness routine.

Set Up a Safe Workout Space

Getting to the gym is a great way to get your workouts in, but it’s not always the most convenient, especially if you have mobility or time constraints. To keep you on track, think about investing in a few simple pieces of equipment to build up a home gym. Dumbbells and resistance bands are great tools to keep at home that will keep you in shape. Pick up a yoga mat as well to incorporate the benefits of low-impact, stress-reducing yoga stretches. If you need a little guidance at home, you can find plenty of workout tutorials and videos online to take your home workouts to the next level.

Find Some Workout Buddies

Working out with friends can make exercise fun, but having workout buddies can also help you lose more weight. Spending time with friends who have the same health goals in mind will provide the encouragement and support you need to shed pounds. It can also fend off loneliness which can lead to unhealthy habits. Try organizing some group walks around a park or getting into a fun, low-impact aerobics class. Get kids and grandkids in on your fitness routine as well, by going for a family bike ride or walking around at the zoo. Exercising with others is a great way to keep you engaged and focused on your fitness goals.

Take Time to Rest and Recover

Being active and losing weight are beneficial to your health, but it’s also important to take time to revive yourself. Stretch after your workouts and take it easy in between exercise days. If you start to feel uncomfortable or are in pain, stop your workout and take a break. If your discomfort persists, it may be time to seek help.

As we age, it becomes more important than ever to take care of our health. One of the best ways we can do this is to maintain a healthy weight. With these six solutions, you can shed extra pounds without causing additional health problems. Congratulations on taking control of your health!