Happy New Year! Is this the year for a new you?
So many of us start the year with a “New Year’s Resolution”. What’s on your list? Loose weight, get fit, start a healthier lifestyle? Chances are it’s one or more of these. With the TV News and Internet constantly bombarding us with conflicting stories on how to achieve these goals what should you do? Is it really as complicated as the media and manufactures portray? Of course not, let’s take a look.
We all possess a bodily system called “metabolism” which converts the food we eat into energy.
Metabolism also influences how efficiently this food (fuel) is burned. The more efficient your body is with using the fuel the less weight gain over the decades. Did you know that by consuming an extra 100 calories daily for a year, without burning them up could lead to a weight gain of 10 pounds? Factors that influence the rate of metabolism are age, sex, proportion of lean body mass, and heredity. As we age our metabolism naturally slows 5-10% per decade after the age of 40. On the other hand, muscle mass increases the body’s metabolism rate and as a rule men tend to have more muscle mass than women. And then there’s heredity, some people are just born with a faster metabolic rate than others.
Some of these factors can’t be changed such as age and heredity, but there are ways to make the most of the metabolism you do possess.
Let’s start with waking up each morning. Most people go eight to 12 hours overnight without food. This causes your metabolism to slow down to compensate for the lack of “fuel”. Have you heard, “eat breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day?” Well this is true. If you don’t give your body some fuel in the morning, then you are not “jumpstarting” your metabolism for the day. Your body will stay in a slow or “starvation” mode holding onto every calorie it can. Also, studies have shown that if you don’t feed your body in the morning when you finally do eat, later in the day you more than likely will overeat. Another study has shown that regular breakfast eaters are more likely to exercise on a regular basis.
This leads me to exercise. Exercise is an excellent way to “jumpstart” your metabolism.
This past October, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) published the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. According to surveys, HHS found that although Americans know that physical activity is a critical part of a healthy lifestyle, in the past decade our activity levels have shown little increase. HHS suggests at a minimum, adults (age 18-64) should do 2 ½ hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Increasing this exercise to 5 hours a week provides additional health benefits. Also, adults should do muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week. Remember, muscle (lean-body mass) increases our metabolism rate. To view the entire guidelines please visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website at: http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/default.aspx.
For a happy, healthy 2011 the simple changes an individual can make to achieve their resolution goals are to start your day with a healthy breakfast followed by some type of daily exercise.
This exercise can be as easy as parking your car further from the store or office, taking the steps instead of the elevator, or even taking that dog of yours for a walk (they will love you for it too!). And don’t forget to include some weight training a few times a week to increase your muscle mass, which burns calories at a higher rate than fat!