So you’re approaching 40.
You find yourself struggling to maintain your fitness level even though you are still keeping up your same healthy habits. But rest assured you are not going crazy. There are a myriad of things going on in your body that are causing this. And just as your body is changing so your fitness and nutrition need to change with it. Let’s dive into some of the causes and why’s when it comes to the changes taking place in your body.
First off as you age there are already things taking place in your body such as the loss of muscle. Beginning in our 30’s we start losing about 3 - 5% of our body’s overall muscle every decade. While that may not seem like much, it definitely starts catching up to us as we approach middle age.
Now before you shrug off the muscle loss and think you don’t need it, it’s actually very important for our daily functions. You don’t have to look all buff for the muscle to benefit you. Muscle also helps you burn calories. So through the depletion of muscle, your body is naturally burning fewer calories on a day to day basis.
Another thing that happens as we hit our 40's is our estrogen levels drop which affects our bone density. Our bones naturally break down and replenish themselves, but in our 40's the breakdown process starts to outpace the replenishing. This is where lifting weights can aid us dramatically. Lifting doesn’t just strengthen our muscles, but it strengthens our bones. In addition, a calcium supplement should be taken along with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium.
Up until age 50 about 1,200 mg of calcium are recommended a day.
Eating foods high in calcium can get you there. Almonds, seeds, Greek yogurts, non-fat cheeses, and whey protein can all help you get the amount needed for calcium. While there are calcium supplements out there, check with your doctor before taking them.
In addition to strengthening your bones, lifting weights will cause you to build muscle and retain what you have rather than losing it. This will also aid you in your metabolism and calorie burning. Lifting weights can burn just as many calories as a cardio session. When you perform any type of cardio your metabolism stays elevated for 30 minutes to an hour after your workout. That means your body is still benefiting from the calorie burning afterward, whereas, with weight lifting, your metabolism stays elevated for up to 18 hours after your workout.
If you are not convinced yet of the importance of lifting weights as you age, it doesn’t have to look like the stereotypical gym images you may have.
Women who lift are becoming far more common, and if you would rather not go to the gym, there are plenty of muscle and strength building programs that you can do from home. Buying a few dumbbells to use at home can open up doors for an almost limitless amount of exercises.
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