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Get Moving: Avoiding the midlife bulge

Get Moving: Avoiding the midlife bulge

September 11th, 2018 by Mary Schantz, For the News Tribune in Health

A jogger passes by a bench while enjoying the Jefferson City Greenway Trail along Edgewood Drive on Wednesday afternoon, June 25, 2014.

Photo by Kris Wilson

Mary Schantz

Mary Schantz

If you are older than 40, you may have noticed you are gaining weight and having more trouble losing it. Research indicates you're right and you are not alone.

You may think it is due to a slower metabolism, however, most weight gain that happens in midlife isn't the result of a slower metabolism at all. Instead, it comes down to a simple but changeable truth: As we get older, we get less and less active. Since 54 percent of all Missourians are older than 35 (according to the Kaiser Family Foundation) one might say we have an epidemic going on.

The good news? There is plenty we can do to counteract what seems to be the inevitable slow and steady weight gain of midlife. Many of the things we can do are pretty simple. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or running with your dog instead of walking. Even better news is now that Jefferson City is creating bike lanes, developing the greenway to more and more parts of town, and has begun a bike share program called SPIN, it is possible to seriously consider cycling as a way to get active and fight the bulge.

Biking is easy on the joints, provides an aerobic workout, builds muscle and bone, helps with daily activities like walking, balancing, standing, endurance and going up and down those pesky stairs, and it is fun. At any age, biking is a great way to get exercise that is easy to do and does not require a lot of financial investment, like membership in an exercise facility or expensive equipment (that ends up in a garage sale anyway). Biking can be done alone or with others.

Start small and gradually increase your distances and difficulty level (with all the hills in Jefferson City that's pretty easy). Consider biking to your friend's place or the store, or to work, or to the park or just about anywhere instead of driving. I keep my bike helmet and yellow vest in my car. Then when I see an orange SPIN bike, and have the time, I park the car, grab my helmet and vest, and take off on a biking adventure.

Download the SPIN app and check out this exciting new Jefferson City initiative. You no longer need your own bike to take advantage of all the health and weight loss benefits of biking — just be a SPINner!

Mary Schantz retired as the executive director of a statewide health care association. She is chair of the Historic Preservation Commission, a CASA volunteer, a volunteer at Wolfner Library and, since retirement, has pursued various activities including biking and walking. She is a member of Jefferson City's Environmental Quality Commission's bicycle subcommittee.