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It’s commonly assumed that our metabolisms slow down as we age. It makes sense, as we age, we slow down and naturally gain a little bit of weight. But the truth is a little more complicated. As Cara Rosenbloom reports for the Washington Post, gaining and losing weight has less to do with our metabolism than we originally thought.

What is a Metabolism?

Our metabolisms turn what we eat into energy. It’s the process of chemically breaking down food and combing it with oxygen, creating energy we need to live every day. Even when we’re relaxed, our organs are burning energy simply doing their jobs.  

The Life of a Metabolism

Again, it’s been the common assumption that our metabolism starts to slow between the ages of 30 and 40. An experiment published in SCIENCE, complied the combined data of 80 researchers over 40 years, with 6,400 participants has deemed our assumptions false.

The experiment classifies the life of a metabolism into four parts. At 1 year old, we burn energy at 50 percent above the normal value. We burn energy at the normal value when we reach age 20. We consistently burn energy from age 20 to age 60. Finally, we burn energy slower after age 60.

Our metabolism has a longer lifespan than we originally thought, in addition to being steadier. Our bodies consistent energy burning means that weight control can’t be chalked up to one factor alone.

Good Health Qualifications

Our metabolisms burn energy both similarly and differently from one another. For example, larger men will tend to burn energy faster. But, when it comes to men and women, once you factor in how our bodies differ, we burn energy at the same rate in correlation to our physical attributes.

Yet we still gain weight. That might because of a lot of different things. For instance, your lifestyle changed, you had a kid, you went off a diet, your exercise or hormone levels might be inconsistent, or you have a medical condition. There’s ultimately little we can do to boost our metabolism, but there are other ways to achieve better health.

Achieve Better Health

Aging healthier takes all aspect of health into consideration. It might help to imagine a metabolism like a lightbulb. That light needs to stay consistent, and a proper stream of electricity will help it stay on. Our metabolism will burn energy consistently, we just need to provide the right type of energy. Simple steps like avoiding sugar, prioritizing mental health, and maintaining some level of activity can help you achieve better health overall.

The Council for Retirement Security is working to help seniors achieve retirement. By striving for better health overall, you can make that retirement happy, healthy, and longer than you might’ve anticipated.