Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Getting Older and I'm Gaining Weight

I'm a personal trainer and in my 20 plus years in the business I cannot tell you how many times I've heard stories like this, "As I get older, I'm gaining weight that I can't seem to lose.  I'm not eating anymore than normal, in fact I'm eating less.  I'm frustrated because I can't lose this weight and I don't know why."  Then, I ask them about their exercise habits and their reply is always similar to this, "Oh I walk or I jog several times a week and that's always helped me to lose weight."  If this scenario sounds familiar to you, I want to explain what is happening in your body and why it's harder to lose weight as you age.

When you were in your twenties you could walk or run an extra few miles each week and the unwanted weight just seemed to fall off.  That's because your muscle mass was at it's peak and consequently your metabolism was at it's highest level also.  Muscle tissue is active, so it uses large amounts of energy during exercise and requires a significant energy supply even when you are resting.  Even during sleep your muscles account for as much as 25 percent of the calories your body burns.

When you enter your thirties, your body starts to naturally lose muscle mass and if you don't do anything to combat it, this process accelerates with time.  You can lose as much as a half pound of muscle each year in your thirties and forties, and this rate of muscle loss doubles as you enter your fifties.  So, you can lose as much as 20 pounds of muscle by the time you reach your sixties which means a huge decrease in your metabolism, and thus your body is not able to burn as many calories when you exercise and when you are resting.  This is the reason you're gaining weight you can't seem to lose as you age.

The good news is that you can combat this process of losing muscle as you age through strength training on a regular basis.  More good news, it's never too late to reap the benefits of strength training.  People in their nineties can gain muscle through a proper strength training program.

In my next post I will show you how to incorporate a strength training program in your fitness routine.  In the meantime, you can find my favorite strength training programs at Forever Fit and Firm.