Unless you happen to possess some sort of Benjamin Button-like secret to aging, I think most of us would agree that, when it comes to strength, endurance and yes, our metabolism, it can be pretty easy to loathe that extra candle on the cake with every passing year.
So why do our metabolisms become increasingly sluggish with age? While there are many, many scientific factors at play here, the primary reason seems to be due to the slowing of our mitochondria - those little energy powerhouses inside our cells that use nutrients as fuel. Other reasons have to do with a hormonal shift and the potential onset of muscle wasting (muscle burns more energy than fat does, so as your muscle mass decreases, so does your metabolism).
But enough with the bad news. The real question is, how can we keep weight gain at bay when it seems like science is working against us? Zeel Fitness Expert Lynda Lippin, dubbed "genius" by fashion designer Donna Karan, offers her valuable insight.
Rethink your routine. What worked in your 20′s probably won't transfer into your 30′s, and the same goes in your 40′s and 50′s as well. Once hormonal imbalances are addressed, Lynda, our New York-based Pilates guru, suggests shifting your mindset along with your exercise habits. Relax more, and make sure you are eating enough of the right foods.
High intensity, big results. Aim for shorter duration and higher intensity bouts of cardio, alternating with short sprints. Instead of doing 30-minutes at a moderate intensity, warm up at this moderate intensity for four minutes, then alternate a minute on at a high intensity with a minute off at a lower intensity for a total of 10 minutes. Then cool down for three to five minutes, or until your heart rate comes down.
Don't resist resistance training! You might also benefit from incorporating resistance exercise into your routine. Kettlebells, for example, combine cardio and strength in a fun way, and there is lots more to do than with some old dumbbells. "If you love equipment, Pilates can help too," says Lynda. "But the resistance training is key; you need to build more lean muscle mass to keep your metabolism up."
Rest and relaxation. Lynda suggests incorporating moments of stillness and quiet into your day. "It is not easy to do, but just a few seconds of closing your eyes and counting your breath will help reduce stress," she says. "Stress causes your body to hold onto fat."
Menu makeover. Remember that what you choose to fill your body with can be of utmost importance when it comes to avoiding inevitable age-related weight gain. Lynda says, "Make sure you are eating enough high-quality food." What does that mean? "Lean protein, good fats, lots of produce, and lots of water and green tea!" she says.