As a fitness professional over the age of 40, all of my clients are over the age of 35. My clientele consists of men and women between the ages of 35-64. More and more people are turning to living a healthier lifestyle that includes a diet and exercise program to reverse the signs of aging and to live a healthier, more active life as they get older.
Many of the adverse effects of aging can be reversed or slowed down by living a healthy lifestyle. Athletically and nutritionally fit individuals measure out 10 to 20 years biologically younger than their chronological age. Diet and exercise does not stop the biological clock, but it can slow it down considerably. Exercise and a healthy diet is the closest thing we have to an anti-aging pill. Gerontologists tell us that once we reach the age of 50, the need for fitness is even more crucial due to the many physiological changes that occur with age.
Just because you’re over the age of 35, it doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be fatter or obese. Most people will write it off as “part of getting older”. I say that is RUBBISH! As a woman in her 40’s I am much leaner, more active and in way better shape than I was in my 20’s and 30’s. I also look younger than some women who are younger than me! The plain and simple fact is, if you take care of your body on the inside, it will show on the outside.
A slow metabolism has nothing to do with age. It has more to do with inactivity and as people become older, they tend to become less and less active. Increases in body fat are more a function of inactivity than age. Inactivity results in loss of muscle. And loss of muscle, not an aging metabolism, is the primary cause of creeping obesity. The muscle that remains is as metabolically active as ever. To really understand what’s going on here, we need to define “metabolism.” Metabolism is the chemical and physical processes in the body that build and destroy tissue and release energy, thereby generating heat. Our metabolism speeds up when we exert ourselves, and we burn more calories. Our metabolism slows down when we are at rest, and we burn fewer calories. But even at rest, it should be emphasized, we continue to expend calories.
If you have a reduced amount of muscle, as most middle-aged people do, your metabolic demand for oxygen and your caloric needs decline. That’s because muscle tissue is active tissue requiring nourishment. Fat is passive; it just sits there as a storage form of body energy. Older people’s reduced muscle mass is almost solely responsible for the gradual reduction in their basal metabolic rate.
As we become more inactive, or muscle mass decreases along with our metabolism and so does our caloric needs. Unfortunately, most people don’t reduce their caloric intake as the activity level decreases, and your body fat increases.
This cycle can be broken by a program that increases muscle and restores lost metabolism. This is why weight training is so important. The more muscle you have, the more calories your burn and elevates your metabolism even at rest.
You can increase muscle size and strength as you get older. Age is NOT an excuse. Much of the loss of muscle as we age is preventable – and even reversible.
Diet is the one area that most people have the hardest time adjusting. Most people will go for hours without eating anything and when they finally do eat, they end up consuming empty calories that have no nutritional value. One of the things we spoke about is your metabolism. Your metabolism slows down when you don’t eat for several hours and turns your body into a fat storing machine, instead of a fat burning machine. What you want to do is cut out all the processed convenient foods and fast foods and replace them with lean sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and healthy fats and eat a small meal every three hours instead of going 6 hours or longer without eating, only to find yourself at your local fast food drive through window. What you want to do is start introducing foods that are quality calories that are nutritious.
Supplements are important as well and before taking any nutritional supplement, you will want to check with your doctor to make sure that it won’t interfere with any medication you may be taking. A quick and easy way to get quality calories into your diet is with a meal replacement shake that is made up primarily of whey protein. Other supplements you may want to take to help build lean muscle (which we talked about earlier in this article) are Creatine and Branch Chain Amino Acids. A good quality multi-vitamin is very important to make sure that your body is getting enough of the recommended daily vitamins and minerals that you may not be getting in your diet.
Consistency with your diet, exercise and supplements is key. Most people have a hard time accepting fitness as a lifestyle and make excuses as to why they didn’t exercise, or why they had that “bad meal”. If you kind of sort of are consistent with your diet, exercise and supplements, you will kind of sort of get results. Doesn’t sound very promising does it. Some people will go gung ho for a month expecting to see major results, and when they don’t see a major transformation, they get discouraged and throw in the towel.
As we get older, incorporating exercise and more nutrient dense foods into our lives on a consistent basis, will prevent us from unnecessary disease and illnesses that we become more susceptible to as we get older and are less and less active and should become more and more of a priority as we get older in order to enjoy life in our golden years.
Does it take work? Yes it does. However, it doesn’t mean that engaging in physical activities can’t be fun and eating foods that are rich in nutrients doesn’t mean that it has to taste bad or that you are depriving yourself.
Anyone and everyone can be fit and healthy no matter what your age and it’s never too late to start.