What you do today will impact your health during your senior years. Keep this in mind the next time you trade your fitness plans for hours of couch potato time.
A recent study showed that whatever lifestyle choices you adhere to during your 50s will have a direct impact in your senior years. Although Americans are found to be living longer lives (with their life expectancy now above age 78), cases of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart problems are now appearing early in life.1
Your Metabolism After Age 40
After age 40, it's more difficult to stay in shape. It's far easier to start early and just maintain good fitness than to get in shape for the first time during middle age.
This is especially true for women because their sex hormones are altered as they grow older, says CNN's diet and fitness expert Dr. Melina Jampolis. Older women produce less "healthy estrogen." Their estrone levels (a type of estrogen made by fat tissues) rise. Estrone also contributes to insulin resistance, an increase in sweet cravings, and loss of muscle mass.
Aside from changes in your hormones, your resting metabolic rate tends to decline by about 5 percent for every decade of life past age 40, according to Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Weight Management Center and associate director of the UPMC Nutrition Center.2
Dr. Pamela Peeke, a nutrition and stress specialist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, states that there are three factors that control your metabolism: genetics, thyroid function, and muscle mass.
Women can lose muscle mass twice as fast as men do at the same age, which makes weight management more challenging. Aging men and women may also find trouble exercising because of the decline of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a muscle-building process.
These, along with other biological hindrances, do not mean that you have to succumb to age-related muscle decline and weight gain. You can counter all of these through proper nutrition and exercise.
Incorporating Exercise to Your Everyday Life
Exercise can alter your DNA in such a way that it preps your body for improved muscle strength and fat-burning. It can also boost your metabolism and address the three factors that control it.
Exercise plays a very important role in disease prevention with its ability to lower inflammation. Although inflammation is your body's way of fighting an infection, chronic inflammation is actually the foundation of many diseases. For the elderly, inflammation is one of the major causes of disability and loss of independence.
Another advantage of exercising is it has a protective effect on your brain in your golden years. It also boosts your production of natural human growth hormone, which is important for maintaining muscle mass as you age. This means that the earlier you start living an active lifestyle, the more profound the benefits you'll receive.
30 Minutes Versus One Hour of Exercise — Which Is Better?
Before you start pounding the treadmill for an hour, here's something you should know: studies have shown that those who spent 30 minutes exercising daily were able to manage their weight better than those who spent a full hour every day.
Results will depend on the type of exercise you do. Research found that just 20 minutes of high-intensity training two to three times a week can reap greater results than hour-long cardio exercises. Combine these type of exercises with proper nutrition and intermittent fasting, and you'll reach your fitness goals faster.