Put bluntly - As we get older our metabolic rate decreases and we tend to put on weight. And whilst from a vanity point of view this can be very frustrating, there is good scientific and medical reason why we need to do what we can to stop the accumulation of visceral fat, which is the dangerous fat that surrounds our vital organs and stops them functioning properly.
In addition, for over 50s (and sometimes as early as in our 40s) our muscle fibres shrink in number and size, which contributes to a loss of strength, balance and coordination. But the good news is that working with weights can slow down the aging process.
Weight training can increase bone density, lowering the risk of osteoporosis and fractures. According to research from UCLA, the more muscle mass we have, the less likely we are to die prematurely.
Our muscles influence our metabolism and our ability to burn fat which in turn helps to protect our bodies from the likes of diabetes and strokes.
As you lift weights that feel like they are challenging you, your body responds by making more muscle. When you stress the muscles, the bone thinks it needs assistance and so it stores more calcium, leading to an increase in bone density.
Speaking to Vogue magazine, Dr Sabine Donnai, founder of diagnostic clinic Viavi:be, says that for women going through menopause, the loss of oestrogen effects the way fat is distributed. Your body stores fat differently, as its lipoprotein lipase (which sits on the surface of fat cells, pulling in fat from the blood) goes into overproduction, no longer kept in check by the declining oestrogen.
“If the fat gets pulled into a muscle cell it gets burned off as fuel; but if it gets pulled into a fat cell, it just makes the fat cell bigger.”
Lifting weights stimulates HGH (human growth hormone), which stimulates testosterone and causes your metabolism to speed up. “The lipoprotein lipase now pulls the fat into the muscle cell, and because you have more muscle now, thanks to lifting weights, your basic metabolic rate goes up’,
As men age their levels of testosterone and HGH also naturally decreases making it harder to build muscle and reducing metabolism.
According to celebrity trainer Matt Roberts “by working against a progressively greater resistance by lifting heavier weights, you will stimulate the production of HGH and testosterone, strengthen bones that lose mass as we age, and reduce fat levels”
By the age of 50 you could be losing as much as 500g of muscle a year if not kept in check with resistance training including Pilates and lifting weights. A sobering thought.
So alongside your regular Pilates fix and some cardio such as walking, running or cycling, add weights to your routine and you could feel fitter, healthier and more energised than you did in your 20 and 30s.
Join us for our online Pilates, HiiT and Barre classes and keep an eye out for our soon to be added weights sessions: https://www.spacefitnessandwellbeing.co.uk/book-online