Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to avoid the weight-gain struggle in mid-life

Remember when maintaining your weight wasn’t so hard in your 20’s and 30’s?  Then come the 40’s, 50’s and beyond and keeping the weight off becomes quite the struggle.  How can you avoid that midlife weight- gain struggle?  Adding pounds as you age, doesn’t mean you are eating all that much.  Your body changes as you age and it really is harder to keep the weight off.  What are those changes and how can we keep some of those pounds from showing up on our hips and waist?  Bicycling.com has some good suggestions.

How the body changes as you age:
  1. Fat cells -those pesky little buggers that are happy to grow bigger as they fill up with fat.  An article in Nature found that how our fat cells burn and store fat changes as we age.  Basically, as we age our fat cells store fat as before, but fat cells are less likely to release that stored fat, thus making it easier to add on those pounds.  To try to keep the weight off, many people try to reduce their caloric intake, which isn’t so easy to do.  
  2. But – one can do something to help those pesky fat cells burn up their stores of fat.  Add some HIIT to your week.
What is HIIT exercising and how does HIIT Help with Weight Loss? 
We are told to keep up our exercise during midlife and beyond.   In fact, one reason our body adds on some of those pounds is that many people exercise less and less as they get older.  Going for walks, bicycling, taking an aerobic or yoga class are all great ways to keep exercising.  However, the researchers found that to turn up the “burn” and get those fat cells firing on all cylinders, one should do more HIIT workouts.  The researchers had women bicycle for 20 minutes on stationary bikes three times a week.  Each time they did the HIIT form of exercise and continued this regimen for 12 weeks.  Not only did the subjects drop some weight, their belly fat decreased.  Interesting that the HIIT group lost more belly fat than those who bicycled twice as long – 40-minute sessions three times a week.  So, one exercises less but ends up losing more weight?  That is what many people like to hear.

What is the HIIT method of exercising?  HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training.  It is any workout in which you alternate between short bursts of activity followed by less-intense activity or resting.  These workouts are often pretty short – usually 15-20 minutes but very effective on burning fat and revving up one’s metabolism.
 1.  Bicycling – I often do a spinning class for an hour. However, if I miss my class I go to the gym and do a HIIT workout on the stationary bike for less than 30 minutes.  I find myself sweating and feeling more exhausted than my usual 60-minute bike class.  There are many ways to incorporate HIIT into bicycling but I tried: 
  •  5-6-minute warm-up 
  •  1-minute sprint followed by a 2-minute recovery and repeat 4x 
  •  5-6-minute cool down 
Enjoy bike riding and try some HIIT
2.  Walking – one doesn’t have to go to the gym to incorporate a HIIT workout into their day.  MyFitnessPal offers the 30-minute HIIT walk.  They encourage you to adapt the routine to fit your fitness level and time available.  One can shorten the intensity bursts and lengthen the recovery, if needed.
  •  3-minute warmup – walk at a comfortable pace
  •  Intervals – repeat 5 times:  3 minutes- walk briskly, 1-minute walk fast – as quick as you can, 1-minute recovery.
  • Cool down – 2 minutes or more if needed
How muscles affect our body weight – as we age, most of us will lose some muscle mass and gain more body fat.  In the nutrition class I teach I show a picture of a cross-section of a young woman’s leg compared to an older woman.  The young woman’s leg is mostly muscle.  The older woman’s leg is mostly fat.  The muscle she did have turned to fat as she aged.  Losing muscle and gaining fat is another reason our metabolism slows down as we age.  Weight lifting can help prevent the loss of our muscle and keep our metabolism firing better.  Other Researchers have found that including both aerobic exercise and weight lifting in your weekly routine can increase your Growth Hormone levels which promotes fat burning. 

Yes, our bodies seem to slow down with aging and along with the slow down can come those unwanted pounds and a bigger stomach.  But there are things we can do to stave off Father Time for a while longer.  Try to incorporate some HIIT workouts this week.  Who doesn’t like the idea of exercising for less time but getting a bigger benefit?
Add some HIIT to your walk

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