Much of the weight gain that people experience as they get older is attributed to a slowing of their metabolism, but what they are missing is why their metabolism is slowing down in the first place. The engine of your metabolism is your muscles. A physically inactive person will begin to lose muscle mass as they age. Typically the process starts at the age of 28. The condition, sarcopenia, results in approximately 3 to 5% loss in muscle mass each decade. The average male can lose approximately 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetime.
This video describes the health implications of sarcopenia and how you can prevent it. Each pound of muscle you lose causes a reduction in your daily metabolic rate of approximately 50 calories, so a 180 pound person with 20% body fat, would lose approximately 4.3 to 7.2 pounds by age 40. This would reduce the number of calories they could consume each day without gaining weight, by approximately 216 to 360 calories a day. In another ten years their daily metabolic rate could be reduce by 425 to 565 calories a day. This would cause them to gain approximately a pound of week, if they didn’t adjust their food intake.
Strength training is the best form of exercise to slow, and even reverse the process. One study by Dtsch Arztebl Int. It concluded that progressive strength training in the elderly is efficient, at reducing sarcopenia, and retaining motor function. An article published in Advances in Preventive Medicine concluded that “Resistance training has favorable effects on body composition since it decreases fat mass including abdominal fat. It also enhances insulin sensitivity, improves glucose tolerance, and reduces blood pressure values. The combination of sarcopenia and osteoporosis results in the significant frailty syndrome often seen in the elderly population. Sarcopenia may progress to the extent that an older person may lose his or her ability to live independently. Resistance training is probably the most effective measure to prevent and treat sarcopenia. In addition, many studies have shown that resistance training can maintain or even increase bone mineral density.” Another study concluded that resistance training can reverse aspects of aging at the gene level.
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