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Middle Age Weight Gain in Women

by
author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
Middle Age Weight Gain in Women
Older woman smiling and holding hand weights. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

Women often find managing their weight becomes more difficult after they pass the age of 40. Physical and lifestyle factors contribute to weight gain in women, especially as the near or pass menopause. Maintaining or losing weight is not impossible in middle age, but it does become more challenging.

Causes

As women age and near menopause, hormonal changes contribute to weight gain. Women in mid-life often exercise less as family and job obligations become more pressing. Stress may result in poor food choices and time constraints result in a lot of drive through or restaurant meals--padding your waistline with excess calories. Every 10 years after the age of 35, people lose about 5 percent of their muscle mass reports Dr. Michael Roizen Chief Wellness Officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Fat burns fewer calories than muscle at rest, so as you gain fat and lose muscle, but continue to take in the same number of calories, you will gain weight.

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Effects

In addition to being cosmetically unappealing, gaining weight in middle age can affect a woman’s health. Carrying excess pounds increases your risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers. According to mayoclinic.com, women who gain an excess of 20 lbs. or more after menopause increase their risk of developing breast cancer by about 20 percent.

Considerations

Where you gain weight as you age is also of concern. In menopause, women tend to gain weight in their belly rather than distribute it more evenly across their body. This visceral fat surrounds the internal organs and further increases the chance that you may develop chronic health conditions. Women whose girth exceeds 35 inches should take immediate measures to reduce their weight, reports a 2003 article in "USA Today."

Prevention

Middle aged weight gain is not inevitable. Vigilance in terms of your diet and physical activity can help you stay at a healthy weight. If you have the foresight, achieve a healthy weight before you hit menopause. It is easier to maintain a weight in middle age than it is to try and lose signficiant pounds. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study in March 2010 confirming that physical activity is an effective preventer of middle age spread. In this study, women who spent at least 60 minutes a day performing moderate-intensity exercise were better able to maintain their weight over 13 years.

Weight Loss

Middle aged women can lose weight, but it takes time and effort. Consume a low calorie diet that consists of healthy foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains. Mayoclinic.com recommends eating about 200 fewer calories daily to maintain your weight as you pass age 40, due to age-related decreases in your metabolism.

Aim to increase your daily activity through gym work, daily walks, gardening, cleaning your house or dancing. To offset the inevitable loss of muscle mass as you age, include some sort of resistance training in your weekly routine.

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References

Demand Media