Weight Gain While Getting Older Can be Avoided

Among the most annoying thing about getting older includes weight gain. Keeping your weight stable can be a challenge, even if you are not eating more or exercising less. However, scientists say that even though growing older may be something we can’t avoid, gaining weight need not be.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention​, an approximation of 93.3 million adults are affected by obesity – this makes it roughly 40 percent of the American adults. It is a serious public health issue, which increased the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and specific cancers.

The Body Works Differently at 80

A big reason why people put on weight is that we slowly lose muscle mass. The mass lost equals to about 1 percent per year, Donald D. Hensrud, associate professor of preventive medicine and nutrition at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, says.

This leads to a decrease in the process of burning calories while we rest. The lower the metabolic rate, the fewer calories burn.

“It may be imperceptible year to year, but compare the amount of muscle mass with the average 80-year-old to the average 20-year-old, and it becomes more apparent,” says Hensrud, also medical director of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program.

Natural physical activity, apart from exercise, sometimes decreases with age as well. Overall, the average 80-year-old will move less on a daily basis, in comparison to an average 20-year-old, Hensrud explained.

Exercise probably declines as well, even though it affects in a wider way the smaller percentage of people who exercise on a regular basis, Bethesda dietitian Jessica Murgueytio agrees.

She proposes working with a personal trainer, with emphasis on weights, to learn to lift securely and efficiently.

“On top of this, I encourage my patients to meet the 10,000 steps per day goal, so they are taking walks throughout the day or doing house or yard work, vs. getting home from the gym and sitting all day,” she said.

Daily Exercise and Calories Regulation

Changes in hormones can also impact weight. Even though the common misconception says that postmenopausal women tend to gain more weight than men, this is not the case. Both sexes gain, but the weight has a tendency to spread in women more rapidly than in men. It often ends up in the abdomen, according to Hensrud.

“Weight gain seems to affect men and women similarly,” he says.

Usually, it gets to one pound or more per year, more so between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t seem much, but it is cumulative, which means it stays on. After 20 or 30 years, it adds up, and during menopause, it is approximately the same in both men and women.

Specialists suggest people to exercise daily, monitor calories, lift weights, and move during the day, keeping themselves from sitting as much as possible.

“All types of physical activity burn calories and are important. Resistance training [weightlifting] helps lose abdominal fat. Exercise is the most efficient way to burn calories,” Hensrud says.

HIIT or high-intensity interval training has been proved to help lose abdominal fat. This type of exercise implies short bursts of intense exercise, followed by short recovery time.

According to the CDC, obesity among people older than 60 is approximately 40 percent, in comparison to almost 43 percent for people aged 40 to 59, and 36 percent recorded in people with ages from 20 to 39.

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