Though it’s a bit difficult to average, many studies point to around one pound of weight gain per year for Americans, and even higher for those over the age of 50.
The Mayo Clinic notes that, especially for women, middle age hormonal changes often lead to mid-section weight gain.
Additionally, increased weight at age 50 and beyond is linked to higher rates of disease, including Type 2 diabetes and heart problems.
However, a rise in weight and decline in health isn’t an inevitable part of aging. The research indicates there are several forces that impact weight gain and — most importantly — many people can turn the tides with an active lifestyle. A plan that includes resistance training, balanced nutrition, and guidance from a professional can help you make the chapter of life beyond age 50 the best one yet.
Even if you’ve never lifted weights before as part of an exercise routine, you can absolutely start today. Age is not a limitation in this important form of physical activity. The benefits to resistance training are numerous:
Higher bone density, increased strength and improved joint stability.
Increased blood flow to organs and boosted energy.
Caloric burn increased: more lean body tissue equals a faster metabolism.
You don’t have to lift every day to see benefits. One study found that older individuals saw improved metabolic health markers when they started strength training, regardless of frequency. Weightlifting can improve your health down to the cellular level, promoting longevity.
Particularly for beginners, professional guidance here will be key as will properly fueling your body the right way to support that new muscle.
Nutrition is about addition, not subtraction
You shouldn’t eat carbs. You shouldn’t eat fat. You shouldn’t eat red meat. You shouldn’t, you shouldn’t, you shouldn’t. Focusing on the “shouldn’t” is a discouraging way to live life, leading to imbalance and frustration. So, quit it.
Do some research, check with your doctor, experiment carefully, do what works for you, and do what feels right. Finding the right nutritional balance typically requires a change in habits, but that doesn’t have to equal “elimination.” Stick with tried and true nutritional advice to get you started. Try adding healthy foods to your diet rather than taking things away. Here’s a few easy “additions” you can make now:
Add a glass of water first thing in the morning (you’ll be amazed at what this does to kickstart your metabolism). If you already do that, add another one mid-day, or at dinner.
Add a salad to your daily diet (morning or the afternoon, greens are good anytime and will add loads of vitamins, minerals and fiber).
Add some color to your meals. Mix it up, throw in some red and yellow in there; maybe even something green.
Add in a supplement. A pill won’t fix everything, but a multivitamin can be a great start.
Yes, there are factors that slow your body down as you age. Are they insurmountable? No. Can you counteract much of what life throws at you through good diet and exercise? “Yes, you can.”
Those words are straight from the mouth of my personal trainer and coach and have been key words in keeping me motivated over the past 20 years. My trainer has shown me the benefits of a proper diet, rest, and exercise; and I’m a personal trainer myself. Even with my own knowledge base and experience, I still greatly benefit from the support, motivation and insight my trainer gives me.
Finding a good fit for your needs will involve some research, so here’s some things to consider:
Education — Some fitness centers don’t require a certain level of education for their trainers. At your first session (which should be free), ask for details about trainer’s education and experience.
Personalized approach to fitness — Ask about their overall fitness theory. Phrases like “what I do” or “what works for me” are red flags. Personal training is exactly that — personal. A program for you should be as unique as your fingerprints and consider your abilities, goals, experiences and needs. Don’t let anyone tell you that any one specific program is the best out there or works for everyone. You deserve a plan that works best for you, and your trainer should get to know you accordingly.
Accountability and personality — Can you work out daily or multiple times a week with this person? You need to mesh. Your PT doesn’t (and shouldn’t) need to be your best friend, but you don’t need to despise them either. A good PT will get to know you and your lifestyle, then bond or relate to you just enough so that they can motivate, educate and hold you accountable. ☸