Karl Lenser

So what exactly is metabolism, and why are so many people interested in obtaining a faster one? Your metabolism is an ongoing process that your body undergoes 24/7 throughout your entire lifetime. Simply stated, it’s a group of chemical and physical actions that help your body create and expend energy (calories). 

Unfortunately, many people have trouble keeping their caloric balance under control and gain unwanted fat stores that can lead to a variety of health problems. As individuals continue to accumulate excess fat stores, their internal engine (metabolism) begins to slow down, which allows weight gain to occur more easily. So how can you give your metabolic engine a boost and keep it revved up?

Get Moving! The best way to increase your metabolism is to begin a consistent exercise program that involves both cardiovascular and weight training components. Brisk walking, jogging, cycling, using an elliptical machine, and swimming are several examples of what a cardiovascular program should entail.

Strength/resistance training is also a must for those who wish to gain optimal health and increase their metabolism. Using free weights or machine weights three times a week will help you reduce excess body fat and increase muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically more active than fat tissue. A pound of muscle requires 35 calories per day to maintain itself, while a pound of fat requires only two calories per day. 

Muscle cells require more energy (calories) to keep themselves healthy than fat cells. That is why an individual weighing 180 with 20 percent body fat will probably be able to ingest more calories (and not gain weight) as opposed to a 180-pound individual with 35 percent body fat. Those with a lower percent of body fat will most likely have a higher metabolism.

Sleep: Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Research has shown that people who only get five to six hours of sleep are more prone to weight gain.

Stress reduction will definitely help in keeping your internal engine revved up. Excess amounts of physical and emotional stress causes an increase in the output of cortisol, a steroid that slows metabolism.

Your internal engine can be revved up by following the guidelines listed above. As with most plans for health and fitness improvements, the key components for improvement involve a consistent exercise plan and a disciplined and well-balanced dietary program. 

Metabolic Trivia:

  • The average adult experiences a 2-5 percent reduction in metabolic rate every decade.
  • Adults who do not participate in strength training lose approximately five to seven pounds of muscle every decade.
  • Between ages 30 and 80, most people lose up to 40 percent of their muscle and functional strength.
  • Adding three pounds of muscle can increase your metabolic rate by up to seven percent.

This is a monthly health and wellness column written by Campus Wellness Coordinator Karl Lenser.

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