Losing Weight Over 40

08.23.2012 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

AP Photo

Becky Johnson, Certified Personal Trainer (ACE); IBNFC Certified Nutrition Coach

Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight Over 40?

As women, we are infinitely blessed most of the time. We are also cursed as women sometimes. We try to live our best lives and work hard only to have middle age hit us right in our midsection. And land there, and stay there. Literally!! I’m 47 and know how it feels to be in a constant battle with my body. If you're having a difficult time losing weight after 40, it's not your imagination. As women age, losing weight does become more difficult. The location of weight also shifts to your stomach area, which increases your risk for serious disease like breast cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Understanding why weight loss is more difficult as you age and making lifestyle changes will help you meet your goals. The belief that after the age of 40 you’re doomed to lose weight is largely a myth!

Causes of Weight Gain

Women 40 and older struggle with weight gain for a variety of reasons, such as hormonal changes and heredity. Your metabolism also slows down, which means you need fewer daily calories for body functions. You may have struggled with excess fat in your legs or hips before. Now, as fat starts to shift to your midsection, you may find it even more difficult to lose.

Fighting Inactivity

Regular exercise is an effective tool for women over the age of 40. Since your metabolism slows down you need physical activity to boost your metabolism and burn more calories. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women over the age of 40 get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity weekly. Moderate activity includes exercise such as brisk walking, water aerobics and riding a bicycle on level surfaces. Burn more calories with vigorous activities like running, high-impact aerobics or jogging. You only need one hour and 15 minutes of this type of activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That leads us to……

Add Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise helps to keep your heart healthy and also builds the large muscle groups of your legs, which increases metabolism. In some cases, people gain weight after the age of 40 because they become more sedentary and less active. Adding aerobic activity by simply adding a 10 minute brisk walk and gradually increasing time and intensity can help you lose weight. For those of you already participating in a cardiovascular program, incorporate interval training 2 days a week. Use a sprint/walk combination for about 20 minutes. See past posts for ideas on interval training.

And most importantly…..
Strength Training

Strength training is important at any age, but after 40, it can play an even more vital role in keeping you healthy. Strength training is important for women over 40 for a few reasons. Building muscle increases your body's ability to burn fat, which means more muscle increases your metabolism resulting in faster weight loss. Yes, your metabolism can speed up as long as you add weight lifting to your fitness routine (I will talk more about this in the next couple of weeks). It also increases bone density, which minimizes your risk for osteoporosis. And decreases the risk if age-related diseases. Regular strength training sessions will also increase your focus and improve stamina.

Get Enough Sleep

We all seem to be chasing that idea of “a good night’s sleep”. Quality sleep, at any age, can affect one’s ability to lose weight. In menopause, it’s even more difficult due to the changing sleep patterns (insomnia, night sweats…) so try to get in 7 to 9 hours of good quality zzzz’s, an amount that appears to provide benefit for most people.

So don’t throw your hands up in surrender. Fight back with some of these ideas. Eat clean, exercise regularly, get some sleep and enjoy life. We deserve it after 40!!!

Stay fit and healthy,

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