While 50 may be the new 30, there are some physiological truths that can still make you look and feel like 50—especially when it comes to losing weight.
All those years of playing sports, sitting, walking up and down stairs, and moving in general take their toll on joints and muscles; you may notice they're a little stiffer and sorer than they were a few decades ago. Then there's the issue of our ever-slowing metabolisms.
According to the American Council on Exercise, your resting metabolic rate (the ability to burn calories while doing nothing) decreases by about 1 to 2% percent per decade, thanks to a decrease in the amount of muscle you carry around (muscle burns calories) and increased fat mass (which is metabolically inactive). To add insult to pudge-boosting injury, our diets often don't change enough to account for this metabolic slow-down, meaning weight can creep up slowly but surely with every birthday.
"There are a number of roadblocks people in their 50s will face when trying to lose weight," says Brian Durbin, a NSCA-certified strength and conditioning specialist and personal trainer. "But once you know what they are—and how to work around them—it's easy to be successful at dropping pounds."
These 7 little tricks can help you lose weight and keep it off:
1. Embrace Weight Training
If you find it tough to make it to the gym at all, let alone brave a weight room filled with buff 20-somethings, here's a little motivation: Once you hit 50, you've got about 20% less muscle mass than you did when you were 20. And because muscle is so metabolically active, muscle loss equals a slower metabolism. That makes you much more likely to put on (and hold on to) extra pounds, Durbin says.
"The good news is you can turn all of this around with a well-structured weight-training routine," he says. "That can increase your muscle mass and help you regain the ability to lose weight like you were able to 20 years ago."
More from Prevention: 9 Strength-Training Moves for All Body Types
2. Get Your Hormones Checked
As we age, progesterone, testosterone, and other hormones decline, which sets the body up for storing instead of losing weight, says Jennifer Burns, NMD, a naturopathic physician in Phoenix. "Simply getting your thyroid, adrenal glands, and other hormone levels checked—and then taking the appropriate steps to bring them back into balance—can go a long way toward helping people in their 50s lose weight," Burns says.
Tami Meraglia, MD, author of The Hormone Secret: Discover Effortless Weight Loss and Renewed Energy in Just 30 Days, agrees, adding that she believes the hormone to focus on is testosterone—especially for women over 50 who are trying to get fit. "There is ample discussion in the medical community about the effects of estrogen loss, but few people are aware of the importance of sufficient testosterone levels, which can help a woman slim down," Meraglia says. In fact, research shows that balanced testosterone levels reduce blood glucose levels, which may help promote weight loss and shrink stubborn belly fat.
More from Prevention: How To Turn Off Your Weight Gain Hormones
3. Choose Activities That Are Easy on the Joints.
Janna Lowell, a Los Angeles—based personal trainer, says she gets the best results among her 50-somethings when she has them do some cross-training in the pool. Tired joints can keep this population from getting a great workout, she says, and aches and pains can turn some people off exercise completely.
"Water exercise is easy on the joints and can boost range of motion as well," Lowell says. "Even better, caloric expenditure is about 30% greater in the water than on land due to the resistance water creates." (Check out this 10-minute water workout that blasts calories.) No pool? No problem. Walking is another great, low-impact cardiovascular exercise, as are cycling, kayaking, yoga, and dancing.