There comes a point in everyone’s life when they start to notice their waist getting thicker and wider. There are many reasons for this, but age, hormones, stress and a busy life are among the worst of them.
According to research, both men and women’s body fat increases as they get into their thirties and forties, largely due to a slowing metabolism and a decline in the hormone testosterone, which causes the body to lay down more fat. Men are more prone to gaining this fat around their middle, whereas women gain it evenly around their middle, back, arms and thighs.
As people age, they do not just gain subcutaneous fat – the wobbly kind– but also deeper, visceral fat, which surrounds your internal organs and is the more dangerous kind. Studies have found visceral fat can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, some cancers and Alzheimer’s, as well as being unsightly.
While exercise is often cited as the antidote to gaining fat, midlife requires a smarter, multi- pronged approach that includes exercise as well as paying attention to what you eat, how much sleep you get and how much stress you are taking on.
Here are some tips on how to shrink your midlife middle.
Lose your breath every day: Make sure you do something that leaves you out of breath every day for at least15 minutes. Bike rides, tennis, running or swimming, no matter what you do, these high intensity workouts keep your muscle fibers highly activated, which helps raise your metabolism and, for men, their testosterone levels, and burns more calories which keeps your mid-section leaner and firmer.
Pump it up: Too many older exercisers assume strength training is for young men who want to bulk up. However, lifting weights makes 40-something men and women leaner and fitter, plus it strengthens their joints. So spend some time in the weights section at your local gym, or try using resistance bands – tensile strips of rubber that offer a strength training routine at home – or take a kettle-bell class to perfect the swings, cleans and snatches that will help torch fat and build strength.
Gender-swap in the gym: Crossing sides in the fitness center can work wonders for both sexes in midlife. As women get older, they should lift more, while men should do more yoga and ballet. Yoga or ballet moves are great for creating really good muscle engagement in areas vulnerable to injury, like your lower back, shoulders and knees. It is also a soft introduction into exercise for an older person new to fitness.