Selling Seniors Short

There is something that has been bugging me ever since I did my research on cholesterol in 2018.  The best I can express it is with a question.

Is the established medical community selling seniors short?

My birthday was in August.  I’m now a year into Social Security and Medicare.  Maybe the birthday is why I’m sensitive to the things I observe in medical statistics.

Let me give you a few examples.

Body Fat

For women aged 21 – 40 a healthy body fat percentage is 21 – 33%
For women aged 41 – 60 a healthy body fat percentage is 23 – 35%
For women aged 61 – 80 a healthy body fat percentage is 24 – 36%

Do older women really need 3% more fat than younger women?

Or since women statistically lose muscle and gain fat after menopause, is the medical community promoting what is common rather than what is really beneficial?

More body fat means a higher likelihood of high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and several other conditions.  Is it better for women to succumb to body fat or to be proactive and try to build muscle and keep body fat down?


Some weight calculators are based on height.  At 5 feet 6 inches my normal weight range is 120 – 159.  My current weight is 128.

But there are also charts by age.  Here is one.

If you are age 20 -29 your weight should be 132 lbs
If you are age 30 -39 your weight should be 144 lbs
If you are age 40 -49 your weight should be 149 lbs
If you are age 50 -59 your weight should be 158 lbs

Is there a reason for me to weigh more in my 60s than I did in my 30s?
Or do the medical statisticians just want me to feel good about myself?

If women read this chart will they be less likely to eat healthy and exercise?

Another chart put out by the Gerontology Research Center at the National Institutes of Health says that for someone 5 feet 6 inches, I should weigh this much:

Age                 Weight
20-29               109-144
30-39               119-154
40-49               129-164
50-59               138-174
60-69               148-184

Really – I should weigh 148 pounds???  If I did I would be facing multiple health problems…possibly including knee replacements.  My physical therapist son often says, “Human knees are not designed to bear the weight that so many of my patients have gained.”

Heart Rate

This chart is on the American Heart Association website

Age                 Target HR Zone 50-85%        Average Maximum Heart Rate, 100%
20 years           100-170 bpm                           200 bpm
30 years           95-162 bpm                             190 bpm
35 years           93-157 bpm                             185 bpm
40 years           90-153 bpm                             180 bpm
45 years           88-149 bpm                             175 bpm
50 years           85-145 bpm                             170 bpm
55 years           83-140 bpm                             165 bpm
60 years           80-136 bpm                             160 bpm
65 years           78-132 bpm                             155 bpm
70 years           75-128 bpm                             150 bpm

When I do 10 minutes on the stair stepper machine at the fitness center, my heart rate goes to 155.  I feel pretty good.  I’m not gasping for air.  I do not feel like I am anywhere close to my maximum heart rate.  Should I back off my exercise?

It’s the same question.  Are the numbers based on what is best for a 66 year old heart?  Or are the numbers based on what is average for a sedentary American sitting in front of the television

Blood Sugar

Several blood sugar sites say that blood sugar levels often rise as people age, but they quickly warn of the dangers of high blood sugar and urge older people to be proactive and keep their blood sugar under control.

I like this approach!

I’m still asking the same question that started this blog
Is the established medical community selling seniors short?

Are they lulling my friends into poor habits based on averages rather than optimums?

I want to be smart.  I don’t jump in exercise classes any more.  I don’t think it’s good for my joints.  I don’t let myself run more than one day a week for the same reason.

If I’m pushing my heart too hard when I exercise, I need to back off.  But I don’t feel any symptoms of exhaustion when I exercise hard.  I find it exhilarating.

And I certainly don’t think gaining weight or increasing fat would be healthy.

Don’t let statistics lull you into unhealthy habits as you age.  Push back against the tendency to gain weight and add fat.  Don’t let blood sugar even start to get out of control.






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