We all know that exercise is good for us. We all know that we need to move our bodies to shake off that extra weight. But we make excuses. Or we don’t even have time for making excuses. We all are just too busy with life and often, too tired to think about it.
I hear a lot of people over 30 say that it suddenly became harder for them to lose weight once they turned 30. They are eating the same things and moving in the same way, but they still seem to accumulate more fat year after year.
Being a personal trainer and a health coach myself, I think exercise is necessary for all ages for all kinds of reasons. But for people older than 30, it’s nonnegotiable. Unless you are a professional athlete or a power line technician who earns your living by physically demanding labor, you can’t afford to make excuses.
I don’t mean to make you feel bad, but I want you to take this seriously because it matters to your future as well as that of your family and all the people that you care about.
1. Your muscle mass will disappear annually
People often say that it gets hard to shake off weight after age 30. Studies show that our muscle mass decreases by 0.5%～0.7% every year if we stay sedentary. Depending on your weight, that would be a 200～300g (7~10oz) annual loss.
Let’s do a simulation.Amanda is 30 years old and weighs 50kg (110lbs) and her body fat percentage is 23%.
That means her fat mass weighs 11.5kg (25.3lbs)
Her lean body mass is 38.5kg (84.8lbs)
Let’s assume Amanda’s weight doesn’t change by the time she turns 50, but her muscle mass loss is 200g (7oz) every year and the muscle lost turns directly into fat.
The sum of muscle mass lost that turned into fat in 20 years is;
200g × 20(years) ＝ 4000g = 4kg
*7oz x 20(years) = 140oz = 8.75lbs
The weight of Amanda’s fat mass at this point will be 15.5kg (34lbs)
Amanda’s lean body mass will be 34.5kg (76lbs)
So that means her body fat percentage will be
15.5kg(34lbs)÷50kg(110lbs)＝0.3131% at this point.
Women with a body fat percentage greater than 30% are categorized as obese.
If Amanda has lost 4kg(8.75lbs) of muscle in 20 years, her basal metabolism will have decreased as well. That means she burns fewer calories while resting, and in reality it would be probably impossible to keep her weight at 50kg (110lbs).
Unfortunately, the speed of Amanda’s muscle loss will accelerate after 50. Now she’ll lose 1～2% every year. And after 60, it will accelerate even more and by that point 3% will be lost every year. If Amanda remains sedentary, her muscle mass will be less than half of what it was in her 30s by the age of 80. Poor Amanda.
If you are over 30 now, can you imagine yourself with only half of muscle that you have right now? Can you imagine what it would be like to walk, lift things, or walk up stairs? Can you imagine how hard it would be to execute simple everyday movements needed to live a normal life?
If you already get breathless when you go up stairs, you should be paying attention now.
2. Your bones will get weaker as well
Exercise doesn’t just develop muscle. The stimuli from exercise actually helps your bones get stronger too. Studies show that people who exercise have much higher bone density than those who are sedentary.
Osteoporosis is a disease that middle-aged to elderly people often get. It decreases bone mass and deteriorates bone tissue. What will happen if you have weaker bones? You’ll break them easily!
What will happen when you break your bones at an older age? It will be harder to perform daily motions such as walking, taking the stairs and even going to the bathroom! Can you imagine yourself in 30 to 40 years? Do you want to need help from someone every time you need the bathroom?
All this can be avoided if you make small efforts to move more everyday and strengthen your bone mass starting today. The stimulus from exercise also helps your bones to smoothly absorb minerals such as calcium, which is essential for your bone health.
Also, resistance training will help you secrete human growth hormone (HGH). Yes. That’s hormone that maintains your youthfulness. HGH will improve your metabolism and accelerate generation of new cells..
3. Technology made our lives convenient, but not healthier
The reason why I nag about the importance of exercise so much is that we don’t have many chances to naturally move our bodies in everyday life anymore.
For example, do you know how people used to wash clothes before the invention of the washing machine? Only a short century ago, people needed to walk to a well or a river, pour the water in a heavy wooden tub, scrub the clothes on a washboard, squeeze the water out, and then hang them on a laundry line. Can you imagine how many squats, arm curls, and deadlifts were involved? Now, we can literally wash and dry clothes with just the push of a button.
To shop for dinner, people had to walk to a butcher shop for meat, a greengrocer for veggies and visit a dairy farmer for milk. They didn’t have a brilliant marketplace like our modern supermarkets. Oh, don’t forget most people didn’t have cars. They had to carry their groceries and other items back home by themselves. But when you look at it a different way, that’s a lot of weight lifting, don’t you think?
I’m not trying to tell you that we should go back to the old days and stop using the washing machines or driers. But in exchange of convenience, we lost lots of opportunities to move around. As a result, we now have so many obesity-related and chronic diseases that weren’t prevalent in our grandparents’ generations. We are living in a world of convenience, but exercise has become a nonnegotiable must. Humans are made to move around. If we don’t, something inside of us goes wrong.
You don’t need that much exercise to stay healthy
Good news! You don’t have to start lifting heavy weights today or run 5 miles. Even if you can, it’s extremely difficult to maintain your motivation and continue exercising like that for a lifetime. It matters more that you exercise a little bit every day for a year than exercising hard only today.
Actually, you need much less exercise than you think. You don’t even have to hustle 30 minutes a day. I’ve created an easy 7-day exercise plan for a
lazy ass busy people like you, so go ahead and download it if you are motivated and ready to make a change!
It is designed to be completed in just 30 seconds to 5 minutes or while you are doing something else, so you can finally stop making excuses for not having enough time! And, it’s not the type of exercises that makes you out of breath; so don’t worry if you don’t have previous exercise experience.
They now say that sitting is worse than smoking. If you stay sedentary, your muscle and bone weaken and both the condition of your body and heart start to deteriorate. But if you choose to exercise today, you can break that pattern and enjoy other benefits of exercise, like reduced stress, improved mood and more energy.
It’s never too late to start. Small things you do today will make a huge change in the long run. And when you start to feel the change, it will give you confidence, which in turn becomes a greater motivation to keep on exercising. Got it? Let’s start moving!
Yumi Idomoto is ACE Certified Personal Trainer & Health Coach based in Japan. She is committed to helping people achieve their best health.