Getting the Junk Out of Our Trunk After 50

Posts tagged ‘Aerobic exercise’

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Burn the Fat, Keep the Muscle


I have been reading up on the subject of burning the fat, not the muscle. Being over 50 years old, women tend to not work with weights as they think that it is not as important as loosing weight. We need to understand that muscle burns fat. Even when you are sitting on the couch, the more muscle you have, the better your body burns fat.

While you have been told that aerobic exercise is the key to losing your belly, weight training is far more valuable. Penn State University researchers put overweight people on a reduced calorie diet and divided them in three groups. One group did not exercise, one group only did aerobics, and one group did aerobic exercise and weight training together. Each group lost about 21 pounds. But the weight lifters shed about six more pounds of fat.

The two groups that did not lift lost weight, but also lost muscle.  research on non-lifting dieters show that 75% was fat and 25% was muscle loss. It may reduce the scale, but you wont look good, and you may not feel as good as lifters. The research also showed that you are more likely to re-gain the weight you lost. Weight training protects your hard-earned muscle and burns more fat.

Lifting increases the number of calories you burn while sitting on the couch, because your muscles need that energy to repair and rebuild your muscle fiber after each resistance training workout. A Wisconsin study found that when people performed a total body workout using just three big muscle exercises, their metabolism was elevated for 39 hours afterwards. They burned a greater percentage of fat than those who didn’t lift.

Ladies, we need to incorporate weight lifting into our routines. Just loosing pounds is not enough. Research shows that between the ages of 30 and 50 you are likely to lose 10% of the total muscle on your body. This percentage doubles by age 60. Worse than muscle loss is that most likely fat will replace it. Flabby under the arms? That’s muscle loss. Thighs jiggling? Muscles lost.

Look, I am not saying to compete in a Ms Body Builder contest (unless you want to), but being strong makes everyday living a lot easier. Getting up and down stairs, lifting bags of groceries, picking up the grandkids, you will notice how much easier you do these simple everyday things.  The statistics say that you begin loosing muscle around 30 years old….that’s 24 years ago for me, so I am also in a catch up mode.

I went to Wal-Mart and found a weight bench on sale, got ten pound hand weights, and a nine pound weighted bar to get started with.I Googled and printed out simple weight lifting instructions.The whole thing cost me under $60 and some time. I have been watching everything I eat, walking almost two miles a day, but not a budge on the scale. Its time to bring out the big guns. Resistance training is just that, the big guns.

If you can’t afford to buy weights right now, there are things around the house you can use. Try two large cans of something 16 oz. each for hand weights. Your own body weight is good, and there are exercises you can do using nothing more than yourself. Be sure to warm up, and do some good stretches afterwards. For the first few days you will be a bit sore, and some epsom salts in a warm bath will help.

All my research quotes above come from Adam Campbell, Fitness Director and The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises, printed by Rodale. It is the most complete exercise book I have ever seen written especially for women. They also write one for men. I also subscribe to Burn the Fat newsletter and they offer a great program based on nutrition, resistance training, and some great motivating challenges and contests.

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