A middle-aged man running up a flight of stairs

Your metabolism is integral to your overall health as it regulates the amount of energy you use from the foods you eat. As we get older, our metabolism inevitably slows down. A slow metabolism means holding on to more food energy, which can diminish your overall health and wellness.

As you age, it’s vital to understand how metabolism works, why it slows, and how you can speed it up. These essential tips can ensure your long-term health and reduce your risk of developing medical conditions related to a slower metabolism.

Why Does Metabolism Slow with Age?

Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that take place in your body when it converts food into energy. Your body relies on food to function because it contains calories, a unit of energy equal to approximately 4.2 joules. 

When you eat, your body converts calories and oxygen into energy for you to store and use. The rate at which your body metabolizes food is called a metabolic rate. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you need at rest, with no movement whatsoever, to fuel your regular body functions.

A person with a fast metabolism has a higher basal metabolic rate than a person with a slow metabolism, meaning they generally burn more calories. 

As we age, our metabolism slows down. This reduction in metabolism is because people typically lose muscle, are less active, and have slower chemical reactions generally as they age. A slower metabolism can result in weight gain, lower energy levels, and an increased risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues.

A middle-aged couple stretching on yoga mats on a lawn

Tips to Speed Up Metabolism

Your metabolism isn’t static. It’s in constant flux based on your diet, exercise, and overall body chemistry. There are a few ways you can adjust your metabolism to keep up with your age and ensure it doesn’t interfere with your ability to live the lifestyle you want.

Increase Strength Exercise

Strength exercises include anything from light weights to rubber bands to bodyweight exercises. Strength exercises help build and maintain muscle and healthy joints, which is critical to maintaining your metabolic rate. 

The more muscle a person has on their body, the higher their basal metabolic rate since muscles require energy to function. If a person has a diminished muscle mass, their metabolic rate will be slower. 

Some examples of strength exercises you can try yourself include:

  • Hip bridges
  • Bodyweight squats
  • Calf raises
  • Shoulder presses

If you choose free weights or resistance bands, understand you don’t need to use that much to get a healthy workout. Depending on your current strength level, weights as low as 2.5–5 pounds are enough to be effective.

Get a Healthy Amount of Sleep

Research suggests lack of sleep impacts a person’s metabolic rate. Sleep deprivation is also linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes because of increased blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.

Adults typically need at least 7 hours of sleep to maintain regular body function. It’s also essential to get the right kind of sleep. 7 hours of restless sleep isn’t the same as 7 hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. 

It’s vital to have a comfortable environment with a good mattress and pillows to support your body to ensure a good night’s sleep. When your body is properly supported, you breathe better and maintain a reasonable metabolic rate throughout the night.

Go For a Walk

If you’re able, walking is a fantastic way to get your heart rate up and increase your calorie burn. Whether it’s around the block or taking the stairs instead of an elevator, any way you can get your feet moving is effective. By increasing your exercise levels, you will burn more calories and raise your metabolism.

Eat More Protein

Eating more protein is one of the most effective ways to increase your metabolic rate. Lean meats like chicken and fish are excellent sources of protein. Protein is also effective because it has a high thermal effect of food (TEF).

TEF is how many calories you burn through eating and digesting food. It usually accounts for about 10% of your total calories burned throughout the day. Protein can raise your metabolic rate by 15–30%. 

Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining an active lifestyle and speeding up your metabolism can help you maintain good health for longer. If you’re looking for more structure, security, and peace of mind to focus on your health, The Villages of Farragut are the place for you. 

Support services include a registered dietician and restaurant-style dining along with an on-site fitness center to give you every opportunity to speed up your metabolism. Get in touch with our team to learn whether joining our family is the right choice for you.