Weight gain and aging are connected, and as you get older, you may start to realize this connection personally.
It can seem harder and harder to maintain a healthy body weight with each year that passes. Why is this a struggle for women, and what can you do about it?
The link between weight gain and aging starts with hormones. As women enter perimenopause, the stage before menopause, progesterone and estrogen levels start to fluctuate rapidly. When progesterone levels drop but estrogen levels do not, this leads to weight gain. High estrogen levels also make it harder to lose weight once you’ve gained it.
Decrease in Muscle, Decrease in Activity
Just like there’s a connection between weight gain and aging, there’s a similar link between muscle mass and activity. The less active you are, the more lean muscle mass you will lose year after year. Lean muscle is important because it burns more calories than fat.
Lean muscle mass loss is a normal part of the aging process, but when you stop using your muscles, you lose it faster. And the weaker you get, the less active you’ll want to be.
Middle Age and Stress
Middle age presents unique challenges. For many, it’s a time when parenting reaches an all-time hectic level. Aging parents may start to lean on you more for support. You are reaching a position of higher responsibility in your career. These stressors all contribute to an increased level of cortisol in your system, which leads to more abdominal fat.
Diet is always one of the main reasons for weight gain. If you consume excessive carbohydrates and sugar and overeat in general, it’s likely you will gain weight. Besides weight gain, unhealthy diets can contribute to many additional health problems.
Make a Plan
So with rising estrogen levels, lean muscle mass loss, stress and bad eating habits as common challenges for many women, weight gain and aging may both seem inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be.
To lose the weight and keep it off, start by examining your eating and sleeping habits. Make it a point to get seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night. Focus on consuming healthy fats and proteins. Fish, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are great additions to your diet. Cut out sugary drinks like soda, and drink eight glasses of water every day.
Next, take stock of your activity levels. If you don’t exercise, start by incorporating short workouts into your day until you’ve built up to 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week. Strength training will also help you lose weight and build muscle.
While you may not have complete control over your schedule, try to take time to de-stress each week. Maintain a healthy balance in your schedule and you will begin to see major changes in both your weight and your overall outlook on life.
Rocky Mountain Women’s Health Center is here to help you maintain good health throughout the coming years. We will help you understand the link between weight gain and aging and the best way to ward off unhealthy changes in your body.