As we get older, it gets more and more difficult to not only lose weight, but to maintain it. The magic (or not-so-magical) age seems to be 35. That is when it really starts to get difficult to not only lose weight but to maintain the weight that you are at.
“Your metabolism slows by five percent each decade.” says Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “Compared to age 25, you’ll burn about 100 fewer calories a day at 35 and 200 fewer at 45. Do nothing, and you could gain eight to 12 pounds a year.”
So, that means when we start approaching 40, we need to work extra hard to lose or maintain weight. But, aren’t we supposed to be able to relax more as we get older? I wish life was fair, but it ain’t. If you’re worried about how much extra work you need to put in, a group of experts studied what the minimum amount of work is that you need to do. According to a Harvard study of 34,000 women, it is one hour a day of moderate exercise.
The study followed middle-aged women for 13 years. They were divided into three groups: those who did less than two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week, between two and a half hours and seven hours a week, and more than seven hours a week.
There was no difference in weight gain between the two lower exercise groups, but the high exercise group gained significantly less weight than the rest. The only group of women who did not gain weight in the study was the normal weight women who exercised for an hour or more a day.
The bad news is that women who started the study overweight or obese did not lose weight with moderate exercise. But, this just means that you can’t achieve your weight loss goals with exercise alone. You need to trim calories as well. Unfair for those already overweight, but most of us probably already figured that we had to eat better to lose weight anyway.
There are conflicting recommendations on minimum exercise . The U.S. government and the American Heart Association recommend getting about 20 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. While the Institute of Medicine (IOM) advocates getting about 60 minutes a day.
The best advice I can give anyone is to simply see what works for you. If you are just starting out, try 20 minutes a day. This can be a weekly average, of course. But try most days to get out for a walk, run, strength train. If at 20 minutes you don’t see results (give it 4-6 weeks), then bump it up until you do see results.
Of course, feel free to do the hour a day as well, but for anyone who may feel discouraged by these findings, you can only find the truth for yourself by doing it… yourself.
April 3rd, 2010