Hit the gym and do the damn thing!
Did you know that the aging process begins soon after 30? That age is sooner then most of us believe. The process involves a slow but steady loss of muscle mass over time. This muscle mass is slowly turning to fat, which by itself is not the issue. Pound for pound fat weighs less than muscle, so if that were the only problem, we would be flabby but certainly not overweight.
The problem with losing muscle mass is that the process also slows our metabolism. It takes a lot less energy to maintain fat, so our metabolism slows down as our muscle mass diminishes. This in turns leads to weight gain and begins a slow but steady cycle of putting on the pounds.
Of course, your eating and activity habits have not changed, so the slower metabolism mixed with the lack of true physical activity further exacerbates the problem. Before you know it, your cool size 8 figure is now pushing into a size 18.
So what is a slick chick like you supposed to do about this untimely turn of events? If you have lost muscle mass, how can you regain it?
The logical answer is to do activities that build muscle. This means the older we get, the more important lifting weights and doing other types of resistance training become. You have to lift, crunch, squat, punch, push and pull. So yes, we are talking about hitting the gym or putting in a video and doing the damn thing! Besides improving metabolism, resistance training also provides the following benefits:
Improves heart and lung function
Increases muscle strength and endurance
Strengthens skeletal function to ward off osteoporosis
And for all you ladies out there who believe lifting weights will make you look like a female hulk, understand that our female hormones overwhelm male hormones, which makes it very difficult for us to bulk up. Using three-to eight-pound weights will do your body a world of good.
Resistance training works best when muscles are worked to exhaustion. That burn or fatigue you feel when you can barely do the last set is your muscles tearing. The following day of rest allows them to repair, which is how they get stronger and toned. That tearing also means you should not exercise the same muscles to exertion every day, to minimize muscle and tendon pulls.
Stronger muscles reduce daily demands on the heart. Barry A. Franklin of the American College of Sports Medicine notes that “(resistance training) … will help the heart function more efficiently when one has to lift or carry objects, which is what real life is about.” This comment is especially targeted to people with cardiovascular issues who need to minimize heart strain. Stronger limb and core muscles mean they take the physical load off of the cardiovascular strain of performing weight-bearing tasks. And according to Prevention Magazine, resistance training dissolves the innermost fat around internal organs compared with aerobic exercise, which works best on superficial fat (around the waistline, triceps, etc.).
Lastly, weight-bearing exercises create high pressure on the bones, which builds and strengthens them, helping to fight against osteoporosis or weakening of the bones as we age.
Ultimately, resistance training can affect how we feel and function on a daily basis. It’s a quality of life issue that doesn’t cost a lot but reaps immeasurable benefits—both near and long term.