Metabolism is a huge part of exercise lingo today. Metabolism is the rate at which a person burns energy, and this is measured in calories. Simply put, metabolism includes all things your body does to turn food into energy. Some of the things that affect your metabolismefficacy inherently – whether it is fast or sluggish – are age, sex and genes. And one of the main things that helps your metabolism gain speed is exercise.

As you age, the importance of exercise actually increases because with the years you tend to lose muscle mass which slows down your metabolism. Muscles are a metabolically active tissue. Starting at about age 25, the average and not physically active person’s metabolism declines between five to eight percent per decade, but for those who are physically active the decline rate is much lower. Studies show that the decrease in muscle mass may be wholly responsible for age related decrease in basal metabolic rate.Working out slows this slide. All you need to do is to challenge your muscles. A consistent and progressive combination of cardio and weight training provides effective protection against drop in metabolism. Below are a few tips that are proven to help:

• Pump some iron. Weight training helps build and strengthen muscle. Work out with weights at least 2-3 times a week.

• Interval training revs up your metabolism and the after burn effect stays up to 24-36 hours after you are done. Done right, interval training can be much more effective than traditional cardio in terms of boosting metabolism.

• Eat small and often. Aim for 4-5 small meals through the day. Eating like this provides a steady flow of energy, minimises cravings and reduces your tendency to overeat. Starving yourself or going on extreme diets will slow the metabolism(famine mode).

• Include protein in every meal. Foods high in protein boost metabolism due to higher thermic effect which essentially means that your body has to expend more calories to digest proteins than carbohydrates and fat. Lean meat, fish, chicken, eggs, raw nuts, hummus are all good.

• A little spice in your food is good. Chili, turmeric and cinnamon are good as they temporarily increase the metabolic rate. Spices raise the body temperature and aid the body’s fat burning process. Note: overload is never good.

• Some studies show that properties in green tea show increase in metabolism. However, if you do enjoy your green tea, ensure that you are having a good quality product.

• Drink more water to stay hydrated. Spread your water intake through the day to obtain a steady metabolism boost. Determine how much water you need by listening to your body, never force yourself to do anything that does not feel right.

• Stay active. Take up regular exercise. Take several short brisk walks through the day. Take the stairs as often as you can.

• Above all, stay healthy and well.

Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.

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