Middle age is the ages between 45 and 65 and it’s considered by most as the best time of life. It’s the period of life where people have the most disposable income, are comfortable in their careers, and are confident in who they are. However, one of the downsides that middle age brings is the dreaded “middle age spread”.
The middle age spread is an unexplained weight gain that women see mostly in their hips and thighs, and men see predominately in their waist. The good news is there is and explanation for the middle age spread and a way to beat it and it is as follows. The added weight that comes along with middle age is mostly do to a loss of muscle mass and consequently a decline in your basal metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the rate at which your body burns energy at rest to keep you alive. Your muscle mass is the active component of your body that requires the most calories for survival, thus the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn all day long.
Unfortunately muscle loss is a natural part of the aging process. Starting in your 30s you can lose 1/2 pound of muscle per year and this process accelerates with age. Thus, between the ages of 35 and 65 you can lose more than 15 pounds of muscle. Now, let’s see how that correlates into fat gain. It’s estimated that 1 pound of muscle burns 6 calories per day just to exist, so 15 pounds of muscle loss equates to a reduction of 90 calories in your metabolism each day, that’s an addition 90 calories your body stores as fat everyday. Multiply that times 365 days in a year and you have a reduction of 32,850 calories in your metabolism which equates to an approximate 10 pounds of fat gain. That’s very depressing, but the good news is you can slow down, and even reverse the process of age related muscle loss by strength training 2 to 3 days each week.
Strength training (also called weight lifting) is a form of exercise in which you perform movements with a resistance that is more than your body weight which forces your muscles to adapt by becoming bigger and stronger. It’s the most effective method for preventing muscle loss as you age. Studies have shown that people in their 90s gain muscle when they participate in a properly designed strength training program.
A good strength training program consist 8 to 10 exercises that target the major muscle groups performed for 8 to 10 repetitions each 2 to 3 times a week. This can be accomplished in about 30 minutes each training session which equates to approximately 1 and 1/2 hours weekly. By investing only 90 minutes each week in strength training you can beat the middle age spread.