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The Cardio Trap

Hey guys,
I am a 42-year-old woman and I’ve been exercising and eating the same as I always have, but I’m putting on weight. Why?

If you’ve been to see your doctor and there’s no medical reason, then I’m afraid it could very well be another part of the normal aging process.

The first problem is, your metabolic rate – the number of calories your body burns in one day – slows down by five percent every 10 years; so you’ll burn 100 calories less at 35 than at 25 and 200 calories less at 45. In pure weight terms, that’s an extra eight to 12 pounds a year.

The second problem is that with age you also lose five pounds of muscle mass every decade, and the less muscle you have, the less calories you burn; these two factors combined will lead to weight gain – unless you do something about it.

At this point, many women start doing lots of strenuous cardio exercise such as biking, running, swimming or forms of aerobics and they start weighing themselves every day.

These are two big mistakes.

A basic measurement of weight doesn’t tell you how much fat and muscle you have. You might be at a deemed ‘healthy’ weight but with a high body fat and low muscle percentages. Muscle burns calories three times faster so you need to find out what your percentages are.

Then you need to do at least 40 to 60 minutes of strength training a week. Only strength building workouts will create the microscopic tears that prompt muscles to rebuild themselves. Do not worry about getting too muscular – women don’t have enough testosterone in their bodies to bulk up like men.

Next include cardio, but the metabolic rate boosting kind, i.e. interval training. This is where you exercise in short, fast-paced bursts. Again, these high intensity intervals force your body to rebuild muscle that burns lots of calories while you are exercising and for a long time after you’ve finished.

Ultimately, we need to understand what the body needs as it ages, and it’s been proven time and again that interval and strength training combined is the healthiest way to look and feel good. If you combine this kind of workout with a balanced, healthy diet, I can promise you’ll be very happy with the results!

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