After age 20, every 10 years your body burns 150 fewer calories a day, according to the American Council on Exercise. This decrease in metabolism is partly due to the normal aging process, but a lack of activity and less muscle mass as you age may also be responsible for the decrease in calorie burning. Although you may not be able to eat everything you want -- as you did in your 20s -- you don't need to accept this weight gain. At 50 and older, you can make changes to your exercise routine to help bump up your metabolism. Consult your doctor to discuss healthy ways you can increase your metabolism.
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Building Muscle for People Over 50
Since loss of muscle is one of the major factors for your decreasing metabolism, strength-training exercises to build muscle is one thing people over 50 can do to increase their metabolism. A 2015 clinical study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that strength-training three days a week helped a small group of people over 50 improve their strength and body composition.
Lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing body-resistance exercises all work to help build calorie-burning muscle. To gain the benefits, the exercises should be difficult enough so that you need help finishing your last rep. A good weight-training program should include strength-training activities that work all your major muscle groups, in which each exercise includes two to three sets with eight to 12 repetitions per set.
Raise Your Metabolism With Interval Training
It's a strenuous workout, but high-intensity interval training is a good way for people over 50 to boost their metabolism. This type of workout involves alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity movements for a specific period of time. For example, alternate between running for two minutes and walking for two minutes for a full 30 minutes. HIIT workouts not only burn more calories than other exercises, but also burn more calories for several hours after the workout, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The ACSM says you should modify HIIT workouts to your fitness level to reduce complications and your risk of injury. Talk to your doctor before starting a HIIT program. Because of the intensity of the workout, it is recommended that you limit HIIT to once a week to enable your body to recover fully between workouts.
Burn Calories Being Active
Finding more ways to move your body may help give your metabolism a boost. Planned exercise is one way you burn a few extra calories. The Centers for Disease Control says older adults should aim to get 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity exercise such as a swim or a bike ride.
You can also increase the calorie-burning by finding ways to be more active during the day. Park your car at the far end of the parking lot, use the stairs instead of the elevator or stand while you are working or when you talk on the phone. You can also walk in place while watching TV or you can jump rope during commercials.
Watch Those Calories
Even though you're working out hard to boost your metabolism, this doesn't give you the freedom to eat whatever you want. Calories still count. Active adult women over 50 need 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day to maintain their weight; active adult men over 50 need 2,400 to 2,800 calories. If you're not as active as this, you need fewer calories. Fill your diet with healthy, low-calorie foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein and nonfat dairy, to help you keep a lid on your intake so your higher metabolism works to your benefit.
- American Council on Exercise: Is It True That Metabolism Decreases With Age?
- McKinley Health Center: Breaking Down Your Metabolism
- The American Journal of Nutrition: Effects of Resistance Training With and Without Caloric Restriction on Physical Function and Mobility in Overweight and Obese Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
- American College of Sports Medicine: High-Intensity Interval Training
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans