While we love to say that the forties are the new thirties. But forties are in fact a very challenging decade for women. Most women in this age group shuttle between taking care of young children and parents who are getting older by the day. Many also juggle greater job responsibilities by the time they touch 40. And while many women take pride in multi-tasking, they find it harder and harder to find time for themselves. This also happens to be the decade where a woman’s body undergoes many changes and needs more care. And when it comes to weight-related issues, most women find it easy to pile on the kilos and have difficulty in losing it.
HealthShots got in touch with Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, Laparoscopic and Bariatric Surgeon, Saifee Hospital, Apollo Spectra, Namaha and Currae Hospitals, Mumbai, to understand why losing weight is so difficult after you turn 40.
Women experience slowing of metabolism as they near menopause. There is a gradual decline in oestrogen levels and a subsequent decrease in muscle mass. A decrease in oestrogen levels also increases their propensity to accumulate more visceral fat which is a harbinger for metabolic problems like insulin resistance and increases their risk for diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Some women in this age group may experience the beginning of joint related issues especially lower back pain or knee joint pains that may prevent regular workouts.
Women have a higher body fat percentage and less muscle mass as compared to men. A decline in oestrogen in their forties leads to a further decrease in muscle mass. Having less muscle mass means a lesser ability to burn calories. This in turn translates into consuming lesser calories to maintain or lose weight.
Most women juggle a lot of personal and professional responsibilities by the time they touch 40 and find it hard to focus on their own health. Many times, they are the primary care-givers for ailing parents or in-laws and young children, which leaves them with very little time for taking care of their own health.
All the multi-tasking can eventually lead to added stress and lack of sleep, both of which can contribute to weight gain.
Dr Bhasker suggests these tips:
Exercise is a great stress reliever. Indulging in 40 to 45 minutes of moderate intensity work-out for 5 days a week is recommended. Try to find some time for yourself every day and do activities of your choice like swimming, cycling, gymming, walking, running or aerobics. Do not miss your fitness routine.
Dealing with multiple responsibilities can be very stressful. Engage in de-stressing activities like meditation and yoga. Try to cultivate a hobby. Share your feelings with friends or like-minded people. Join a support group where you can find people who are going through a similar phase in life as you.
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Lack of good quality sleep can also lead to weight gain. Try to get sleep for 7 to 8 hours every day. It is also important to maintain the circadian rhythm by sleeping on time. Early to bed and early to rise is good advice to follow!
Be regular with your health check-ups. They may help in the early detection of any health-related problems. Early diagnosis will lead to early treatment.
Last but not the least, if despite all your efforts, you have difficulty in losing weight, do consult a qualified weight loss specialist for further guidance.