It is a very simple process: As we age, we lose muscle mass. As we lose muscle mass, our metabolism slows. As our resting metabolic rate slows, we gain weight.
After the age of 20, our bodies lose 1/3 to 1/2 pound of muscle tissue per year. This results in strength reduction and slows our resting metabolic rate. Our resting metabolic rate is the rate our bodies consume calories when we are not working – even when we are sleeping. The slowing of our metabolic rate translates into weight gain.
Replacing Lost Muscle Mass
Most people understand the effect of aerobic exercise and its role in weight reduction and cardiovascular fitness. Many do not understand the connection between weight training, weight gain, and aging.
Weight training, even twice a week, will help you maintain and even replace that lost muscle mass. Although weight training will produce extra strength in as little as six weeks, experts tell us to allow 12 weeks for physical changes to be obvious. Weight training twice a week also has another bonus – it helps combat osteoporosis. As muscles strengthen, so do the underlying bones.
Exercising Increases Energy
It is true that the more we sit, the more we want to sit. If you are thinking you just don’t have the energy to exercise at the end of a long work day, consider the fact that exercise actually increases your energy. You feel like doing more, not less.
Regular physical activity increasing your blood flow which, in turn, causes more blood and oxygen to move through your body. This creates more energy.
It’s hard to get into the habit of exercising when you feel tired all the time. Great, exercise will increase energy but how do you find the energy to exercise? If you generally only feel a bit sleepy, you should still make efforts to exercise.
However, if you are downright fatigued and can’t fathom the idea of exercising, first work on getting enough sleep. Lacking in proper sleep can affect your weight and cause you to consume more carbohydrates.
Overall, if you can get yourself moving, regular exercise will help to improve the quality of your sleep.
Exercising Decreases Stress
Decreased stress levels and better overall health and quality of life are additional benefits of exercise.
As little as 5 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as aerobics, is enough to get your brain producing endorphins. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that create good feelings and act as painkillers.
Even if your focus is to build muscle mass, you should include cardiovascular exercise in your fitness regime. Simple activities such as walking for 10 minutes provides the same stress-relieving benefits of a 45 minute workout. Even stretching is beneficial to reducing stress, since stretching your neck, shoulders and lower back helps to relieve the tension and restricted blood flow caused by stress.
Make Exercising a Habit
If you will consistently exercise (combination of aerobic exercise and weight training) for only 15 to 20 minutes per day for 12 weeks, you will be delighted at the feeling of control and power you feel with your own body. And as you replace muscle mass, you will see your weight gradually come down.
True, exercise of any kind takes time and planning. However, like anything else, it gets to be a habit. Unlike some habits we humans have, this one has untold benefits to the human mind and body.