Let’s look at strategies for women in their 30s.
“Women generally tend to lose about one percent of their muscle mass each year starting around age 30,” explains Riva Rahl, MD, medical director of the Cooper Wellness Program in Dallas. “That gradually slows your metabolism.” And because about three-quarters of women in their 30s have had at least one child, you may be juggling young children as well as a career.
Translation: You barely have a free moment to brush your teeth, much less focus on getting to the gym regularly. Happily, though, you can fight back—and win. What 30-something woman has an hour to spend at the gym? No worries. To get the most bang for your time-starved buck, try interval training—alternating short bursts of high-intensity exercise with short recovery periods. Women who did intervals for 20 minutes crushed three times as much fat as those who worked steadily for 40 minutes, a study from the University of New South Wales found. Try it on the treadmill or elliptical, or during your morning walk.
By age 40, you’ve lost up to 10 percent of your muscle mass—and, thus, may be burning about 100 fewer daily calories than you were 10 years ago. Plus, you’re approaching perimenopause (if you haven’t hit it already), which tends to spell trouble for your midsection. “This decade is when a lot of weight goes toward the abdomen, hips and thighs,” White says. Here’s how to keep your dress size stable.
A slowing metabolism begins to make it even harder to ditch extra pounds, so you’re going to have to take your workout up a notch and make sure you do some full-body strength training two to three times per week, says celeb trainer Kathy Kaehler, author of Fit and Sexy for Life.
Do vigorous cardio, such as a Spinning class, for at least 40 minutes most days each week. You’ll burn mega calories, and your metabolism will get a boost for up to 19 hours afterward, a University of Alabama at Birmingham study suggests.
What about when your reach your 50s often called the decade of transition: You’re going through perimenopause or menopause and battling a sluggish metabolism, too. The scale can creep up—if you let it. “The reality is that many women do gain weight in their 50s, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” Brown says. No need to bid your sleek stomach good-bye—you just have to work a little harder to keep it.
Aim for 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day, says Jennifer Huberty, PhD, associate professor of physical activity and health promotion at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. If you’re time-crunched, 30 minutes a day of vigorous activity can do the trick, too. Also, do two to three strength-training sessions per week to help speed metabolism.