Age has unfairly become the whipping boy for loss of body shape - and gain of body fat.
A common complaint as Boomers move into, through and beyond 50 goes something like this: "My metabolism is slowing down with age!"
You may be getting older, and your metabolic rate may indeed be slowing down - but the two don't necessarily need to show up as a team. While it is true that mid-lifers, on average, burn fewer calories per pound of body weight each day than someone younger, this has two primary - yet easily reversible - causes.
First, as a 50-something, your muscle mass of often less than that of your younger counterparts. Yet, if we take an honest look at the activity levels of someone younger (say under 35) vs. those in midlife and beyond, we usually see that getting older means being less active.
Second, reduced overall activity results in loss of muscle mass. This is one case where truly if you don't use it, you lose it. Loss of muscle translates to fewer calories used both during exercise as well as after bouts of activity - when muscle is in recovery and still metabolically active.
Thus, the shift in metabolism is more a function of activity levels than of age - and that is something you can easily do something about.
Here are 5 quick ways to start getting fit after 50:
Though standing vs. sitting makes a difference for pure calories burned, this is even more important for its metabolic effects. Sitting brings the metabolic process to a screeching halt - and that includes increasing lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in your fat cells, making it easier for your body to store fat. This is just the tip of the damaging health implications of sitting too much.
Start by simply breaking up periods of sitting by standing - set a timer to remind you to get up and move every 30 to 45 minutes. From there, it's a short step to a 5-minute fitness break.
Working your muscles encourages lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity in your skeletal muscle; we already know that sitting suppresses it. Remember, LPL is an enzyme with the job of extracting particles of fat in your blood and transporting them to one of two places:
Where do you want yours to go?
By challenging your muscles - even in short, 5-minute bouts, you're inviting your body to be a better fat burner. It's as simple as that.
Research tells us we can build muscle well into our 80s, 90s and beyond. Muscle tissue is more metabolically active than fat tissue. Yet, the important 'unsung' central message about having more muscle is not so much about the additional caloric consumption from simply having more muscle, but how much more capable you will become.
You'll be able to exercise longer and harder when you do work out as well as become more resilient so you can be more active throughout the day. This effect of having more muscle adds consistently - and over time, considerably - to the caloric benefits of exercise. In short, muscle:
If 'make some muscle' gives you pause, you needn't lift heavy weights to benefit from resistance training. Heavy weights can compromise the joints and present other orthopedic concerns. Research tells us that as long as you're getting into the muscle and driving a challenge within 90 seconds of the start of your exercise set, which you can easily do with moderate weights, you're on your way to making more precious muscle.
With all the sitting we do these days, the gluteal muscles - the muscles found all over your rear end - have become overstretched and unconditioned. This translates to poor shape, reduced resiliency, compromised strength, diminished body power, back pain and collapsed posture. However, the good news is that your gluteals are easy to target and respond quickly to exercise.
The easiest way to hit the glutes is through exercises such lunges, squats and even something as simple as taking a hike. Exercising the gluteals - the largest muscles of the body - acts as an instant invigorator and burns calories at a premium.
Stand more and sneak in 5 or more minutes of fitness several times a day. These are effective strategies for busy Boomers to quickly build fitness - and muscle. Make gluteal work a priority featured in every one of your exercise bouts, and you'll not only discover a whole new level of body strength and shape but one of the quickest ways to get fit. And that transfers to better body power, improved posture, dynamic energy and greater physical confidence. You'll never look back.
The Plant-Based Fitness Expert and Fit Quickies author Lani Muelrath, M.A., CGFI, CPBN, has more than 30 years of experience as a teacher, coach and trainer. Lani has been guest lecturer in kinesiology at San Francisco State University and is associate professor in physical education at Butte College. She created and starred in her own CBS television show, Lani's All-Heart Aerobics. Lani has a master's degree and multiple fitness credentials in physical education and is certified in plant-based nutrition.
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