Tackling middle-age spread

Elderly couple walking in park

It’s all too easy to slip into an unhealthy lifestyle and pile on the pounds in your 40s. Perhaps work and family commitments have taken precedent over your gym membership. Or maybe you’ve moved away from your beloved sports team and never found the time to get back into the swing of things. Whatever the reason, an expanding waistline with excess fat around your middle is a serious problem. It’s important to battle the bulge – your health depends on it.

The risks of putting on the pounds

There’s no way around it. As we age it gets harder to maintain a trim waistline. We all go through hormonal changes that are a natural part of the ageing process. These changes mean we tend to lose a certain amount of muscle mass and gain fat mass.

On top of this, many of us slip into a less active lifestyle and experience higher levels of stress in middle age. This can all add up to the dreaded ‘spare tyre’ around our waistline. But being overweight is not just a problem when it comes to fitting into our clothes. It puts us at a greater risk of getting a range of lifestyle related diseases. These include (but aren’t limited to) type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

It’s time to take back control

If this all seems a bit bleak, here’s the good news. Getting older doesn’t have to mean getting out of shape and being at risk of illnesses. Now is a better time than ever to get back on track. It just requires a little push and knowledge about how you can improve your health in order to keep that spare tyre away for good. Here are a few actions you can take to ensure a good quality of life and help reduce your risk of ill health in the future.

Eat a healthy diet. In recent years, there’s been a substantial amount of research on the Mediterranean diet. This largely consists of eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, fish and good fats – like those found in olive oil, avocados and oily fish. Studies have shown that conditions such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease are less common in people who eat this diet.

Move more and get creative. Put simply, if we don’t move enough throughout the day, our body stores the extra calories we take in from food as fat. Not all of us have the luxury of time, but perhaps all that’s needed is a little bit of creativity. Rather than getting the bus or train to work, why not cycle, walk or get off a stop earlier? Instead of going for a coffee to catch up with a friend, why not go for a walk together and enjoy the outdoors?

Track your exercise for extra motivation. If you’re struggling to find the motivation to get active, wearable technology might give you that extra boost. I hear great things from my clients who monitor their activity with technology.

Whether it be smartphone apps that count your steps or calorie intake, to smart watches that track your workouts. The great thing about these tools is that they enable you to set your own goals, no matter how modest. And they give instant feedback so you can see how you’re progressing.

Do you know how healthy you truly are? Bupa health assessments give you a clear overview of your health. You’ll receive a personalised lifestyle action plan with health goals to reach for a healthier, happier you. 

Health Adviser at Bupa UK

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