On a personal level, I have been pretty good over the years at maintaining a fairly regular exercise routine. My routine always includes running, usually weight lifting, and intermittent periods of swimming, biking, etc. depending on my goals and motivation. I’ve maintained this regimen for three primary reasons: 1) fitness is important to me in terms of health; 2) I like to look and feel good, and; 3) I like to eat a lot of crap.
It looks like I may have to focus my energies a bit more on #3. According to this study, a focus on diet, specifically reduced caloric intake, becomes increasingly important as we age and for maintaining one’s health. From the article:
Women who participated in the study had more than twice the risk of substantial weight gain if they did not become more restrained in their eating.
“Some suggest that restrained eating is not a good practice,” said Brigham Young University professor Larry Tucker, the study’s lead author. “Given the environmental forces in America’s food industry, not practicing restraint is essentially a guarantee of failure.”
The article also discusses the primary catalyst for a reduce need of food - as we age, we need less energy:
“Because the body's energy requirements progressively decline with age, energy intake must mirror that decrease or weight gain occurs,” said Davidson, a research fellow at Columbia’s Obesity Research Center. “Dr. Tucker's observation that women who practice eating restraint avoid the significant weight gain commonly observed in middle age is an important health message.”
Now, I could remain in denial and chalk the results of this study up to the fact that it was conducted on a sample of female participants; hey, being a guy, I’ve got nothing to worry about (at least this is what many of my female friends will say, usually adding a "Not fair!" sentiment at the end). However, having read a great deal about diet and fitness, and having been to the mall recently, I think I will be honest and acknowledge this pertains to men as well, although likely in some different manner. In any event, it appears that simply getting by through exercise may not be enough for us old folks entering middle age and beyond. Time to reduce those late night snacks!