We’re all getting older, it’s a fact of life we don’t necessarily like to think about. But we must think about it, that is, if we want to age gracefully and healthily and maintain our ideal healthy weight.
As the years go by, our body composition continually changes. After the age of 35 we start losing 5% of lean muscle every 10 years. After the age of 40, we lose 1% of lean muscle every year! As the body loses lean muscle mass, it starts to increase fat stores. This is why people start looking flabby and soft as they get older.
To top it all off, women have hormones to deal with. Women’s hormones are constantly changing with every stage of life starting with puberty, pregnancy, and all the way to menopause. During the menopausal years, low levels of estrogen account for the increased weight gain around the belly. Losing weight can be extremely challenging at this time. In general, many women notice an increased amount of belly fat as they age, even if they aren’t gaining any weight. The natural aging process, hormones, and of course, our genetics, all play a contributing role in this shift from lean mass to fat mass. Although these factors are all naturally occurring and we have no control over them – there is still a way to fight back!
Exercise is one of the greatest defenses against age. One of the reasons the body stores more fat as it ages is because the metabolism starts to slow down. When we are young, the body has more lean muscle, and muscle requires more energy to maintain. Muscle is our metabolism. The more lean muscle we have, the more efficiently our metabolism runs, simple as that. Aging replaces muscle with fat and therefore, has a halting effect on our metabolism. The only way to fire up the metabolism is to maintain muscle mass with regular exercise and strength training.
The American Council on Exercise has published an article called, “Is it true that metabolism decreases with age?“. Dr. Digate Muth provides an expert explanation of the effects of our metabolism on age-related weight gain.
In the end, it all boils down to one simple fact – in order to fight the effects of aging and related weight gain, we must make regular exercise and physical activity part of our lifestyle. This is what I consider to be the “fountain of youth” and we all have access to it.