As we age, our body undergoes changes and natural wear and tear. Living, eating, and exercising the right are important for good bone health and countering the effects of changing metabolism
You run, you walk, you exercise, you even diet… But the weighing scales stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the effort you are putting in. On the contrary, any slackening shows it rising faster than a hot air balloon!
While weight gain leads to excessive pressure on the joints and aches and pains, even those who appear lean and trim are not immune to joint pain and weariness. If you are 30 years and above, and more so, a woman, this must be an all familiar problem. Exercising becomes a challenge and fitness levels drop.
Part of the problem is metabolism – aging brings down the body’s ability to digest the food consumed and absorb the nutrients so needed for bone health.
Metabolism refers to the process by which the body converts food into energy for survival, and is happening at all times – when you are moving and even when you are resting or sleeping.
There are many factors that determine the basal metabolic rate (BMR): higher muscle mass helps in maintaining good metabolic rates to burn more calories. Since women tend to have less of this than men, they tend to gain more weight as compared to men of that age. Aging also impacts the BMR.
Imbalanced diet, low levels of physical activity, genetics, certain types of medications, and poor sleep patterns are some of the other factors that contribute to the slowing down of BMR.
Impact on Bone Health
While bones may seem strong and solid, remaining constant at all times, the truth is that they are being constantly resorbed and new bones being formed. However, the process slows down after the age of 30, when resorption starts to exceed new bone formation, leading to bone loss. As women approach menopause, bone loss occurs faster and continues into old age. This is one of the reasons why women, especially, suffer more from bone-related issues. When the metabolism slows down, then the body’s capacity to absorb calcium, important for building bones, is also affected and can lead to osteoporosis. The bones become porous and weak, and vulnerable to fractures, especially of the hip, the vertebrae, and peripheral joints such as the wrists.
But bone health is not affected by mineral intake alone; a sedentary lifestyle also causes weakening of bones. Not exercising enough and being overweight can lead to osteoarthritis. It affects the cells’ ability to produce energy, leading to the overproduction of glucose. This turns into lactic acid when not used for energy, which the body is unable to flush it out. Excessive levels of this acid in the body cause inflammation of the cartilage in the joints, impeding movement and causing pain.
In a self-feeding cycle, they come in the way of exercising, and that adds to the weight, which again affects metabolism.
Improve Your BMR
So here are a few tips to improve your BMR and lose weight:
- Eat the right amount of calories – Yes, you do need to cut down on calories, but not below 1000-1500 calories a day. Too little can also slow metabolism, so have enough.
- Increase your protein intake – Proteins improve the metabolism rate by about 20–30% through what is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). Consuming at least 0.5 grams of protein per 1.2 grams per kg to helps maintain metabolic rate during weight loss and maintenance. It is also a building block for muscles mass that helps in improving BMR.
- Lead an active life – Movement is life. Especially for women, family commitments, in addition to the poor health condition, can come in the way of exercising regularly. Those who work in blue and white collar jobs tend to sit in one place for long hours, further impacting their BMR. Aches and pains and any lack of visible signs of losing weight despite exercising can also be demotivating factors. But the consequence of not exercising enough will significantly decrease the number of calories being burnt, leading to further weight gain. Pursuing a sport can be fun while also helping you lose weight. Even basic physical activities such as standing, cleaning, and climbing stairs, known as non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT), can help burn up to 2,000 additional calories per day. However, in addition to sport and walking, introduce weight training to strengthen your muscles.
- Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves – as the name suggests – intense training of short intervals of 20 to 90 seconds involving quick and very intense bursts of activity. A cardiovascular exercise strategy, it requires alternating between intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, pushing oneself to the edge of endurance. It helps burn more fat by improving the metabolic rate, even after the workout is over. HIIT can be added to regular workout too, like speeding up for 30 to 60 seconds when walking or jogging, and then slowing down to your usual pace. Repeat the cycle for 8 to 12 minutes for it to be effective.
- Get your eight hours. As we grow older, our sleep times come down because of stress and commitments. But this, in turn, lowers the BMR and, of course, leads to higher risk of contracting a number of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Sometimes, to cope with the lack of sleep, many end up taking an afternoon nap, which plays havoc with the circadian rhythm. This, again, is not good for the metabolism, and will be a contributing factor in weight gain.
- Drink water. Plenty of it. And not sweetened drinks which are detrimental to your health. It only adds to your calories and can cause diseases such as insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity. Instead, drinking water can help lose weight and maintain it. Drinking half litre of water increases resting metabolism rate for about an hour by 10–30%.
Remaining positive and persisting in our efforts will definitely bear fruit. Exercising is important not only to lose weight but also because it has an impact on bone health. So, adapt a healthy lifestyle, eat right, exercise right and enjoy good health. If there is persistent discomfort in the joints or unidentified fracture, do speak to our doctor and ask him all your questions related to joint pain to make sure you are not suffering from osteoporosis.