Sunday 11 December 2016

Shape Up: Get the edge on your peers

Damien Maher

Published 28/02/2012 | 06:00

Halle Berry dares to bare and why not with that tummy.
Halle Berry dares to bare and why not with that tummy.
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 25: Actress Halle Berry attends the 2011 FiFi Awards at The Tent at Lincoln Center on May 25, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

The quest to be fit over the age of 40 means you must become a master at adapting to the whirlwind of change that life throws at you.

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Relationships for some go through challenges, parents need care-giving or pass away.

Routine medical check-ups may also bring to light a condition that will shape the way you treat your health for the rest of your life. You learn to accept the reality and adapt with the best strategy that will help change or manage your condition.

The changes to your physical well-being may start with the decline of your eyesight and hearing. You may be decreasing in height, your hair is greying, the wrinkles on your face are increasing and middle-age spread is starting as your metabolism continues to slow down.

This decade represents a time when many men recognise a need to change their way of thinking about their health.

Years of neglecting exercise has resulted in a bulging belly and moobs. This changing body shape has been helped along by declining testosterone.

Testosterone is the hormone that is necessary to build fat-burning muscle. In men aromatisation occurs, which is when testosterone converts into the female hormone estrogen.

We know that lack of sleep, low intake of protein, lack of essential fatty acids like omega 3 and no weight-training can lower testosterone so if we do the opposite, males can slow down the ageing process.

One of the physiological changes females experience is declining ovary function, which leads to greater fluctuations in their hormone levels. This leads to irregularities in their cycle, but the other big event in this decade is menopause. Testosterone also declines, which manifests as decreased libido, energy and sense of well-being.

Changes to your resting metabolic rate starts to decline in your 40s due to a loss of muscle mass, due to insomnia, history of dieting and irregular feeding times.

Prior to menopause, women have less strokes, less hypertension, and less heart attacks compared to men. Once they hit menopause though, it's a level playing field.

The top three things females entering the menopause complain about are:

1. Hot flushes -- which is affected by a reduction in estrogen.

2. Insomnia -- which is linked with a reduction in progesterone.

3. Loss of libido -- which can be linked with a lack of testosterone.

US-based cardiologist Mark Houston recommends that by using resveratrol you can modulate all three of these and see symptoms improve.

Resveratrol is one of the most potent antioxidants and is useful in counteracting lack of sleep. Resveratrol also helps regulate cortisol and improves insulin resistance.

Menopause leads to a big reduction of two primary female hormones -- estradiol and estriol. Resveratrol helps put a protective sleeve on your DNA and keeps balance between estradiol and estriol.

At menopause, when estrogen levels decrease, women become more susceptible to osteopenia (low bone mineral density), eventually followed by osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones).

What they need to do to counteract this is to make their bones stronger with strength training. Long slow distance training is not the solution as it has been associated with greater bone loss.

The exercises that improve bone growth are compound exercises such as a barbell back squat because it involves compression.

Aerobic training increases stress on your adrenal glands, which can adversely influence the ratio between testosterone and the stress hormone cortisol, which eats muscle.

Women are often worried about their bone density in menopause and many take a calcium supplement, but if they are lacking in Vitamin D3 it is not absorbed. Females post menopause should switch to iron-free multi-vitamins when their menstrual cycle ends.

The key to being fit in your 40s is to accept you are going to get older but that you do not need to age as quickly as your peers. Eating fresh healthy meals, engaging in strength and interval training, taking a good multi-vitamin, sleeping regularly and taking time to recharge will all help you in the long run.

www.befitforlife.ie

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