Exercise and Fitness: Questions & Answers
Vital Health Zone is proud to announce Gina Jackson, who is our resident exercise and fitness expert and who is available to answer all your questions about exercising and fitness. Gina has a private practice and is available for consultation.
Gina answers all your exercise and fitness questions below:
Q: I am 52 years old, 4ft 11 inches tall and I weigh approximately 102 pounds.
I recently had my body fat calculated at a health fair and learned I have 38% body fat. I have a lot of access weight in my stomach and abdominal area. I do not exercise regularly.
I don't eat a lot. Breakfast is usually breakfast bar, lunch is banana or apple with peanut butter and then I eat a regular dinner. I can't understand why I would be gaining weight if I'm not eating.
Everyone keeps telling me to eat more frequently and eat smaller amounts, but I can't imagine getting any smaller amount than I'm eating for lunch and breakfast.
What should I do?
A: Oh that darn body fat!
First of all, congratulations on paying attention to the statistic of your BMI (body mass index), a measure of body fat based on height/weight. However, keep in mind the best (most accurate) measurement of body fat is performed with skin-fold calipers vs a BMI table estimate that I anticipate may have been performed at the health fair.
That being said, 38% body fat is cause for concern and requires an adjustment in your lifestyle. There are three things that stand out from your comments, however and that may be negatively contributing to the numbers: your age, your activity levels and your diet.
- AGE: At 52 years of age, your body is physically undergoing changes due to the transition toward menopause. Your metabolism may have begun to slow down. Peri-menopausal (and menopausal) women tend toward carrying excess body fat in the areas you described. The hormonal changes in your body contribute toward this effect. Which brings me to the second issue, your activity level.
- ACTIVITY: Your activity level is described as sedentary. You may want to consider making an immediate adjustment in this area first. Consider the fact that if your metabolism has slowed down and your activity level is minimal, your body is holding any excess calories you ingest as you are not moving the body to use those calories.
Consider joining a fitness class or program; investing in a bicycle; regularly walking and/or jogging to increase your activity level and pursuing a strength training program (weights, pilates and/or yoga) to build muscle and bone strength and positively impact your metabolic rate.
- DIET: All food gets converted into glucose to be used by the body. Any excess that is not used to fuel your system's activity requirements is stored as excess fat. For a peri-menopausal female, that storage tends toward the middle, hips and thighs.
So, in a nutshell, you will have to "move it" to "lose it."
Engage in more fitness for your health!