As we get older our bodies change. Our skin begins to sag, our joints begin to ache, our vision starts to blur – these are all natural parts of the aging process.
Once you get over the age of 40, though, there’s also a good chance your metabolism will start to decrease, if it hasn’t already. In general, adults begin to see a 5% reduction in metabolic rate (how fast their bodies burn calories) every decade over the age of 40.
Plenty of people like to blame weight gain and other health issues on this common phenomenon, but a changing metabolism is only partly to blame. If you’re eating poorly and leading a sedentary lifestyle, it’s only natural that your body would start to pack on the pounds.
Of course, there are always people who maintain a relatively consistent and healthy weight throughout adulthood, but a healthy weight range doesn’t necessarily denote health. Just look at the “skinny fat” scenario, whereby people who appear to be at a healthy weight still suffer health issues because their fat-to-muscle ratio is out of whack.
The point is that a balanced diet and regular exercise are essential to your health, especially as you move into your forties and begin to experience a decline in your metabolic rate. This may require you to make some targeted diet and exercise changes, especially if these areas aren’t even on your radar.
Your body ages whether you’re ready or not, and unless you want to increase your health risks, it’s time to start making the diet and exercise changes that will keep you healthy, happy, and fit for years to come. Here are a few changes every adult over 40 should consider.
Suppose your body naturally burns about 1,500 calories per day at the age of 40. This means if you eat roughly this amount daily you should maintain a fairly consistent weight. Right?
The problem is that your metabolism is likely starting to slow. So by the time you reach 50, it is estimated that your body will only burn about 1,425 calories, and by 60 that number will drop to just over 1,350. In short, even if you eat the same amount of food you’ll start to gain some weight.
This is, of course, exacerbated by the content of your diet – 100 calories worth of kale is very different from 100 calories worth of cake. Naturally, your level of activity plays a role as well.
That said, if you implement no other diet and exercise changes, you can always reduce your calorie intake to better maintain your weight after forty, or at any age really.
Over time, your body suffers from wear and tear, and the cartilage that cushions your bones and joints is particularly susceptible. If you want to continue (or start) exercising, you should be aware of this so that you can compensate accordingly.
High-impact exercises like jogging that were fine at a younger age can become much more difficult and painful as you get older. If you’re looking to make meaningful diet and exercise changes in order to stay in shape after the age of 40, choosing an exercise regimen that is lower impact should help.
Cardio and Weights
Maintaining health and fitness levels after the age of 40 may require not only fewer calories and different exercise routines, but also that you shift your focus to both burning fat and building lean muscle. Since your body is more inclined to store fat and lose muscle mass after 40, a combination of cardio exercises and weight training can help you to meet myriad goals and accomplish overall body conditioning.
Diet and Exercise Changes to Come
Every so often it’s a good idea to reevaluate you diet and exercise regimen, especially if you start to notice that what you’ve been doing for a while is not delivering the same results. Not everyone is trying to lose weight or bulk up, but even maintaining a healthy weight could require significant diet and exercise changes past the age of 40.
But you’re not done yet. Your doctor may recommend that you make additional diet and exercise changes at 50, 60, and beyond as your body continues to age and your needs and limitations change. Nobody enjoys the prospect of aging, but when you focus on diet and exercise throughout your life, the chances to remain healthy and active later in life increase.