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The Miracle Anti-Aging Cure

By Marjorie Lee,2014-05-18 16:29
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The Miracle Anti-Aging Cure

    The Miracle Anti-Aging Cure!

Mention weight training and body builders with bulging biceps and thick necks come to mind.

    But weight training - also known as resistance or strength training - can be done by anyone,

    even frail 90-year-olds. It doesn’t have to mean ‘bulking up’. In fact, it doesn’t even have to

    involve weights.

    If you enjoy food, it’s probably something you should consider. That’s because whether

    you’re male or female, sporty or not, pumping iron can help you avoid being part of what’s now

    a national trend: getting fatter as you age.

    Thanks to a Christmas party here and a take-away dinner there, every year, on average, a couple

    of extra kilos find their way onto each of our bodies. And since it’s so much easier to gain

    weight than lose it, the extra fat tends to hang around. We might not notice the small annual

    gains until we try on a pair of jeans from a decade ago, or look back through our photo albums.

    But when we do, the reality can come as a shock.

    If this sounds familiar, take heart. It’s not just a question of eating more and exercising less

    (although that’s often what happens as we get older, acquire wealth for indulgences like eating

    out and get time-squeezed by families and/or more demanding jobs). There’s actually

    something more insidious at play. As we age, hormonal changes mean the amount of muscle

    on our bodies declines. All up, muscle mass may drop by as much as 50 per cent between the

    ages of 20 and 90, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.

    That’s significant because muscle, unlike fat, is active tissue that burns fuel even when we’re

    just slobbing around. Assuming we don’t do anything to compensate, this means that as we

    get older, we need less fuel to keep our normal bodily functions ticking over. If we don’t want to gain weight, we have to eat less than when we were younger.

    Middle-age Spread

How much less? It depends on your age, your activity level and your build. A 49-year-old

    inactive woman of average height and weight, for instance, should eat nearly 600 kJ a day less

    than a 19-year-old of the same build and activity level. While 600 kJ isn’t very much - it’s

    equivalent to a medium-sized banana - overeating by just that little amount every day equates to

    a weight gain of half a kilo a month, or around six kilos a year.

    Thankfully, such a large weight gain doesn’t occur in practice because our appetite

    compensates somewhat for the drop in metabolism. In other words, most of us don’t end up

    consistently overeating to that degree every day. But nonetheless, the average Australian

    gains around three kilos every ten years and the drop in muscle mass as we age is a significant

    component of this.

    (You can get a rough idea of how much you should be eating each day to maintain your current

    weight by entering your details in a daily energy intake calculator like the one accessible under

    ‘calculators’ at http://www.mayoclinic.com/programsandtools/index.cfm.)

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‘One-size-fits-all’ clothes needn’t be an inevitable part of aging, though. Exercise of any kind

    will burn kilojoules and help maintain muscle mass. And at least 30 minutes of aerobic

    activity such as brisk walking is recommended on a daily basis. But if you add to that just two

    20-minute weight-training sessions a week, you can start to work wonders.

    Experts say that after just three months of an appropriate program, you can gain an extra 1.3

    kilograms of muscle and boost your metabolism by seven per cent or more. Women in

    particular need not worry about bulking up. Apart from their lower testosterone levels which

    limit muscle size, avoiding very heavy weights means you’ll end up sleek and sculptured rather

    than big and beefy. If you swap fat for muscle - which is more dense - you can actually lose

    centimetres even if your weight doesn’t change.

And you don’t need to be tied to a gym membership. You don’t even have to go near a barbell

    if you don’t want to. A good book or website can teach you how to safely challenge your

    muscles at home, using either large elastic resistance bands, the weight of your own body or

    even objects like soup tins. As your strength increases, however, you might need to

    progressively increase the load to keep your muscles challenged. (Good books include Weight

    training for dummies by Liz Neoprent and Suzanne Schlosberg, John Wiley and Sons, 2001 and

    Strong women stay slim by Miriam Nelso and Sarah Wernick, Lothian Books, 1998

But since incorrect technique can slow your progress or even cause injuries, at least one initial

    session with a qualified instructor who can check your form could be useful. Some local

    community health centres also run classes. You should check with your doctor first if you

    have any health problems, have not been doing regular exercise or are middle aged or older.

    As well as fat-busting, other health benefits of weight training include increased strength and

    endurance for everyday activities, stronger bones, more flexible joints, improved mental health,

    better balance and protection against heart disease and diabetes.

    That’s as close to an anti-ageing miracle cure as you’re likely to find!

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