Midlife Weight Gain
I am almost 40 and am wondering what physiological changes I
may experience in the next few years. Will my metabolism slow
down, will I gain weight?
As you progress through mid-life you will find your metabolism
does slow down. You will need fewer calories to maintain the same
weight--about 400-500 less by the time you are eighty. This and
the tendency to decrease physical activity in mid-life contributes to
weight gain. In addition, weight gain will tend to be concentrated
more in the lower body--the lower abdomen, hips, buttocks and
thighs. The average woman will gain one to two pounds per year.
But, weight gain is not inevitable. You can maintain a constant
weight with an appropriate plan of diet and exercise. This is
important, especially for women, as one study found that increased
weight between the ages of thirty and fifty was the single greatest
risk factor for breast cancer, later on in life.
In mid-life, how and when you eat may be as important as how
much. One study showed that mid-life women who consumed their
calories in about six small meals had faster metabolisms and
lower weights than their counterparts who ate three large meals.
Eating earlier in the day as opposed to later also allows you to
consume the same amount of calories with less stored as fat. And,
as always, if less of your calories are from fat, then you will tend to
Regular aerobic exercise is a way to boost your metabolic rate
and counteract the slowing due to aging. It lowers your risk of heart
disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis, as well. Even if you
haven't had an exercise program up to now, you can benefit. While
cardiovascular fitness will improve with as little as twenty minutes
of aerobic exercise three times a week, forty-five minutes per day
is necessary to make an impact on weight.