Once you hit your 40s, staying in shape can become more challenging. That’s because as you mature, you’ll need to address your diet and activity levels more specifically to maintain your best health.
In other words, the days of eating fast food or late-night high-sugar, high-carb meals are most likely over. One reason you’ll need to say goodbye to high-calorie eating is that, according to Dr. Mehmet Oz, your metabolism starts to slow about 5 percent per year after your 40th birthday.
For many women, this slowing metabolism registers as weight gain; with more weight often comes less energy and therefore difficulty motivating yourself to start (and stay) moving. And even with regular exercise, it can be tough to keep your weight in check. Your basal metabolic rate also declines with each decade of life, so fat-burning requires extra effort.
Face the Challenges!
1. Your thyroid
The thyroid controls your metabolism. You are more likely to develop hypothyroidism (which can cause weight gain). Besides weight gain, your age starts to catch up with you in other ways in your 40s.
After 40, exercise routines that once challenged you within your earlier years can become painful or difficult. You may start feeling the effects of age on your joints.
2. Nearing menopause
Menopause is just around the corner (the average age of menopause is about 51). While exercise hasn’t been proven to help you better cope with the effects of menopause, experts at the Mayo Clinic say making fitness part of your daily routine can help you manage your weight as you near menopause.
Estrogen loss has also been linked to bone loss, making it important to support your bones with strength training. And as estrogen dips, there is often an accumulation of belly fat. That belly fat — sometimes jokingly called the “meno-pot” — can increase a woman’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
3. Changing fitness routines
Since excess weight can be a factor in several types of cancer and heart disease, it’s worth it to stay active well past your 40s. Cartilage, tendons, and ligaments become less elastic, which can cause increased pain and/or injury if you continue to perform high-impact activities such as long-distance running, basketball and aerobics.