If your stomach seems to slowly creep outward over time, it's because men gain weight easily around the waistline as they age. You can counteract your slowing metabolism and keep trim by doing both cardio and strength-training exercise regularly and by eating a healthy diet.
Aging and Stomach Fat in Men
You lose muscle mass as you age, causing fat to account for more of your weight than before. Because fat burns fewer calories than muscle, you need fewer calories to maintain your weight. According to public health specialist Lewis Kuller in 2007, men of all ages store fat most predominantly around the abdomen, making them more "apple shaped" than women. As men get older, cells in the arms and legs can even stop being able to store fat. Belly fat contains visceral fat, which clings to your abdomen's internal organs. This type of fat puts men at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes and colon cancer.
Cardio exercise is the fastest way to burn calories to help you manage your weight. If you don't like running, cycling or working out on the elliptical machine, try an activity such as kickboxing or kayaking or a sport such as basketball or tennis. It's easier to stick to your workout plan if you choose activities you enjoy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. The higher your intensity, the more calories you burn, so motivate yourself by setting goals for increasing your workout intensity levels. If you want to lose weight, aim for 150 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly, spread out over your week.
Although cardio burns more calories, strength training is important for long-term fat loss and weight maintenance as well, and it also counteracts muscle loss from aging. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, building more muscle mass will boost your metabolism, helping you keep the belly fat off. According to Professor Robert Wolfe at the University of Arkansas in 2008, after age 50, your rate of losing muscle can start outpacing your rate of gaining muscle, and your net muscle loss can increase even if you are exercising. The earlier you start strength training, the slower you'll lose muscle with age.
The best thing you can do to keep your calorie intake low is to eat as healthfully as you can. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains every day, and choose lean protein sources instead of fatty ones. Avoid the saturated fat found in cheese, butter and red meats. Eat smaller, more frequent meals to metabolize your food faster.
Tips and Safety Considerations
If you're injured or unfit to do an intense cardio workout, you can work out at a low intensity and still burn lots of calories by doing it longer. If your joints are weak, avoid high-impact activities such as running and do low-impact sports that don't stress the joints, such as swimming, water aerobics and cycling, which still torch lots of calories. Warm up before each workout and cool down and stretch afterward to prevent tight, sore muscles and injuries. Always consult with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
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