How to Lose Weight Safely as You Age

Aerobic activity, such as walking or cycling, is tops for burning calories. For example, walking for half an hour torches about 140 calories, depending on your weight.

Strength training, however, may be more crucial for keeping weight off as you age.

“After midlife, you lose 5 to 10 pounds of muscle per decade, which dramatically reduces how many calories your body burns,” says Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., a professor of exercise science at Quincy College in Quincy, Mass. “Resistance training helps offset that loss, and research shows that your resting metabolic rate stays elevated 5 to 9 percent for up to 72 hours after a session.”

That means if you work out with weights only two days out of seven, you’ll reap the rewards of an elevated metabolism all week. Put a routine together with these tips from Westcott.

Design your plan. Choose three lower-body moves (legs and glutes); three for your upper body (back, shoulders, arms, and chest); and two or three for your core (abs and lower back). In Westcott’s research, people did the following exercises: leg extensions, leg curls, leg presses, chest presses, lat pull-downs, shoulder presses, abdominal curls, low-back extensions, and torso rotations. A trainer can guide you, or you can design a routine by using the online library of the American Council on Exercise.

Choose your resistance. Bands, medicine balls, strength-training machines, and free weights such as dumbbells all work equally.

Use enough weight. Do eight to 12 repetitions of each move. If you can’t do eight reps, you’re using too much resistance. When you’re able to do more than 12 reps, add 5 percent more weight.

Repeat the suggested reps of each exercise once. Rest 90 seconds to 2 minutes, then do another set.

Do the workout twice a week

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