Many of us have already experienced it to some extent, the Big Slowdown; a gradual slowing of the body’s metabolism with the gradual (and sometimes not so gradual) onset of weight gain. This weight gain often occurs without significant changes to your lifestyle or routine. Men and women alike (even those who are physically active) should expect to gain some weight after the age of thirty. You may be eating the same way you’ve always eaten and have maintained the same level of physical activity, but slowly you see that the pounds are beginning to creep on. What do you do?
This weight-gain is a multifold phenomenon; a slowing down of the body’s metabolism, (the body and bones are no longer growing, so that body doesn’t need to expend as much energy as it did while in the growing phase), a natural and gradual loss of muscle mass due to aging (sarcopenia), and of course genetics and lifestyle are a big part of the slow down equation. Some might think that reducing their caloric intake alone, might be the answer to losing this weight, however, scientific studies have shown that drastic reductions in caloric intake, alone, cause the body to slow the resting metabolism even further, resulting in a halt in weight loss. It is widely accepted that exercise, along with attention to diet and caloric intake, is the most effective approach to combating weight gain and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Research has shown that improvements in heart-health and the body’s physiological functions are just a couple of the important benefits of the “smart nutrition and exercise” approach. However, even if you are getting the recommended amount of exercise and engaging in healthy nutrition choices, most people (including those who are regularly physically active) will still experience some level of the “slow down” and weight gain (gaining 4 to 8 pounds per decade, between ages 20-50.) Exercise can greatly curb the weight gain, but it is still very likely to occur.
For some, there may be a silver lining to the “slow down”. Women, who while in their twenties may have traditionally had a smaller bosom or derrière, might discover and appreciate a new found voluptuous physique in their late thirties and forties. Men who may have longed for fuller arms or calves in their youth, might gain it naturally with the slow down. For some, it might be a bit of a welcome change. For others, this weight gain is an annoyance with lots of time and energy dedicated to fight off each pound tooth and nail.
Optimal health is the most important issue at hand; significant weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle with poor nutrition is not a good formula for anyone. Knowing and maintaining your blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight within healthy limits is crucial to for a healthy existence.
However, given what we know about this gradual change, is it wise accept and embrace some bodily change and modest weight gain with age? Have you experienced the impact of the “slow down” and what has been your ideology and approach in dealing with it?