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How to Prevent Weight Gain in Middle Age

Let's face it. Many people start putting on weight in their forties and fifties. In fact, many people even expect that middle age weight gain is a normal developmental process. This attitude toward weight gain in middle age is due to two factors:

1. Metabolism slows down as we approach middle age.
2. You see so many middle-aged people who are overweight.

Let's take a look at the first factor: Metabolism slows down as we approach middle age. Well, unfortunately that is true. Part of this is due to our changing hormone levels and the other part of it is due to reduced physical activity.

In addition, people tend to lose muscle as they age, and muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does. In fact, the PRIMARY reason that metabolism slows down in middle age is due to the decrease in muscle mass. If you want to keep your metabolism high in middle age and beyond then you need to continue exercising, which will serve to speed your metabolism up. The best exercise to build muscle is resistance training with weights.

Often, persons in their forties and fifties will go to work all day, sit behind a desk, then come home, fix dinner, eat, and then will often sit down in front of the TV for the rest of the evening (after all, we are tired when we get home from all that sitting down at work and sitting all day TRULY is tiring), and then go to bed. People just aren't getting as much exercise as they should.

The answer to this problem is to exercise more, however, that isn't entirely the answer. Because an older person's metabolism may be slower, they must also learn to eat a little less. When you see yourself beginning to become overweight that is the time to increase your physical activity and to decrease the amount you are eating.

Attitudes About Weight Gain

Now let's discuss the second factor on the above list. Because you see so many overweight people in their forties and fifties, we begin to think that weight gain is inevitable and just a normal part of development. After all, two-thirds of the middle aged population wouldn't be overweight if it wasn't normal or if they didn't have to be, now would they?

The idea or the myth that gaining weight is normal and inevitable as you get older perpertuates weight gain in the following manner:

Because it is seen as both normal and inevitable, as people in their forties and fifties start to put on too much weight they often just ignore it. The attitude is that "might as well keep on eating because there's nothing I can do about the weight gain anyway."

Even if metabolism does slow down some in middle age the basic premise that you must expend the same amount of calories that you take in to maintain the same weight is the same as when you were younger. If you aren't burning calories as quickly as you once did then you must reduce the amount you are eating to maintain the same weight or begin exercising more so that you are burning calories faster.

Why Remaining a Healthy Weight as You Age is Important

Remaining a healthy weight as you get older is important because being overweight carries numerous health risks, such as the following:

  • Obesity increases your risk of certain types of cancers
  • Being overweight increases the risk of injury to your joints
  • Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes
  • Obesity is linked to an increase in cardiovascular disease

And finally, you will look and feel better (and feel more like remaining physically active) if you maintain a healthy weight.