While it’s common for people to gain weight as they age, it doesn’t have to be your story. The fluctuating hormones of menopause, the stress of a midlife crisis, aging muscles, and a slowing metabolism can all contribute to a growing waistline, but there are ways you can stay fit and trim into your 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Look your best ever as you enter your later years with these simple diet and exercise tips.
Maintain Muscle Mass
You may not be losing your memory or your teeth, but you may be losing your muscles. Starting at around age 40, the muscle cells responsible for repairing damage to old cells and building new ones begin to dwindle. Muscles play a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight and keeping your metabolism humming. This is why it’s important for everyone at every age to incorporate strength training and resistance exercises into their workout routines.
That means you ought not get stuck on the treadmill or stationary bike for your workout. Lift weights, do weight machine exercises, or get on the floor and try some bodyweight exercises at least three times a week. If you’re new to the world of strength training, be sure to seek the advice and guidance of your personal trainer.
The kids may be out of the house, but it doesn’t mean life is all peace and quiet. Midlife stress is common and when left unchecked, it can wreck havoc on your health and body. Stress causes an increase in the amount of cortisol circulating in your body. Overtime, this hormone contributes to the accumulation of belly fat, resistance to insulin, decreased muscle mass, and increased blood pressure. Weight gain around your abdomen is dangerous, putting you at a greater risk for heart attack, stroke, and high cholesterol.
If possible, cut down on the amount of stress in your life. To manage stress you can’t escape, get regular exercise, take time to relax, find a quiet spot to mediate or pray, and spend time doing things you enjoy.
Meet Sleep Requirements
Sleep is a third piece of the puzzle when it comes to fending off weight gain as you age. You may no longer have little ones waking you up in the night, but don’t take that as an excuse to stay up to watch the late show when you’ve got an early morning. Lack of sleep is linked to a greater appetite, slower metabolism, and bigger waistline. Sleep helps keep your hormones in check. Too little sleep leads to an increase in ghrelin (the hormone that tells you to eat) and a decrease in leptin (the hormone that tells you you’re full). Too much ghrelin and too little leptin is a recipe for weight gain.
Aim to get seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. A soothing bedtime routine along with going to bed and waking the same time each day may help if you have trouble sleeping.
Make Diet Changes
You’re eating and exercising as much as you always have, so why are you now gaining weight? One of the many unpleasant effects of aging is a slowed metabolism. But don’t take this as an excuse for putting on pounds. Instead, make the necessary dietary adjustments to account for a slower metabolism. For you, it may mean turning down second helpings, ice cream with your cake, or a large order of French fries. It doesn’t have to mean deprivation, just a few small changes.