Weight increase is very common as we reach middle age. However, while it may be almost inevitable it is not healthy, especially if the fat we gain is stored around our stomach and abdomen. BMR or basil metabolic rate is the amount of calories that our body burns while at rest. Our BMR is highest when we are younger and so our calorie needs are highest during our mid-20s, then those needs reduce at about 2-4 percent every 10 years. We also tend to be very active when we are younger.
There are two reasons to consider as to why we gain weight as we get older, one is natural and the other is behavioral. The most common reason why we need to eat fewer calories as we get older is because we become inactive. Wear and tear, and degeneration of the joints is inevitable and sometimes it can cause us pain to the point where we don’t want to move as much as we used to. Sometimes though, healthy people just stop moving. You can prolong the effects of aging just by maintaining a certain level of activity and exercising.
The other reason we eat less calories and our metabolism slows as we age is because our muscle mass tends to decrease. Between the ages of 30 and 70 years, muscle tissue shrinks on average by about 30 percent in most people. The reason for this having a decreased amount of muscle tissue as we age is mostly due to lack of exercise and general reduction in body movement. Muscle requires more calories than fat does. So the less muscle we have, the fewer calories we need, and any surplus energy we take in will be stored as fat.
Nearly 4 in 10 men who are 45 years or older may have low levels of testosterone, according to the findings of a new study. Dr. Thomas Mulligan of the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida and colleagues report in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Mulligan and his team also found that men with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides levels and diabetes were more likely to have low testosterone. Obesity was the factor associated with the highest risk — obese men were more than twice as likely to have low testosterone levels. (1)
The age-related reduction in muscle tissue leads to an average weight increase of about 5 pounds per decade (men) or 3.5 pounds per decade (women). It seems that oestrogen may influence body fat distribution. And for women, animal studies have shown that a lack of oestrogen due to menopause has been linked to weight gain although the source or mechanism is not yet known.
Men and women will have some obstacles as they age. But while it may not be as easy to lose 20 lbs at 50 as it was at 20, it is certainly achievable. As we stated earlier in this article, a major player in a decreased metabolism and muscle mass is directly related to inactivity. Make activity a consistent part of your daily life, whether it be working out or going for a hike. If you haven’t been consistently active for a while, its never too late to add activity to your life and maybe shed some pounds in the process.
1) SOURCE: International Journal of Clinical Practice, July 2006.