Hands up if you’ve said this: ”I hit 40 (or 45 or 52 or whatever your particlar year of misery was) and suddenly started gaining weight.”
The general assumption is that metabolism slows down in our 40s and beyond and there’s little we can do to halt the inevitable weight gain that comes with it.
Recently, a group of scientists reviewed this topic and it turns out our metabolism does not mysteriously slow down at some random age! They measured total energy expediture in a large number of people aged 8 days to 95 years old. As you might expect, energy expenditure (how many calories we need to be alive and move around) went up during childhood and adolescence.
But, here’s the surprising bit…it then stayed relatively stable from age 20 to 60. Perhaps even more surprising was the finding that energy expediture wasn’t affected by other things we naturally assume will influence metabolism such as menopause, andropause, and pregnancy. And, although there was large variation between individuals, there was no difference between men and women when body compostion was accounted for.
So, what is going on as we gain weight with age?
Quite simply, our lives and behaviours change. We eat more and we move around less.
– We tend to have more sedentary jobs where we sit at desks and spend more time in our cars;
– We play less, because play is for kids and adults are supposed to be sensible and boring;
– We’re tired after work and would rather collapse on the settee in front of Netflix than go to the gym;
– We have more stress; more demands on us at work, and kids who might, just occasionally, stress us out a bit.
This may be good or bad news depending on how you view it. On the downside, it takes away one of your excuses for why you might be out of shape. But let’s put a positive spin on this…You’re not a victim of biology and there’s something you can do to address the situation.
You can make changes to your lifestyle and environment to make sure you don’t start to pile on the pounds the day after your 40th birthday. For example:
1. Set up your home and work environments to help you make simple changes to your diet.
2. Find a sport you can continue to enjoy as you get older.
3. Commit to a gym programme that’s manageable and enjoyable, and do exerise which helps you build or maintain muscle mass.
4. Walk every day.
5. Use simple stress-reduction strategies to stop stress from making you reach for junk food.
My Small Group Training programme is aimed at people in their 40s, 50s and 60s and will help you stay active, fit and healthy at an age when most people start to take it easy. If you’d like to find out more, contact me using the form below and I’ll give you a call to see if it’s a good fit for your needs.