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In my last post, I talked about what the term "metabolism" and "basal metabolism" really means. Now let's talk about what the heck happens to your metabolism after you turn 40!

On top of your basal metabolism, your body's workload increases with any type of activity, from brushing your teeth and taking a shower, to walking around your home, school or office. In other words, your day-to-day activity level is another significant part of your fuel needs.  

This extra work increases the number of calories the cells burn, because the "labor" of the cells has increased. For instance, your lung cells must work to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide, but they work harder when you're walking at a brisk pace than when you're sitting in a chair.  

For many of us, there are gradual changes in our activity level that occur as we age. For example, we may not be chasing young children around, going out dancing with our friends, or making several trips every hour to our boss's office – because we've become the boss!

These subtle and seemingly minor changes in our activity can have a significant impact on our metabolism. Even burning 10 calories less a day could add up to one pound of weight gain each year (100 calories less a day adds up to a pound a month!).

So what's a body to do? Get moving! Look for ways to move a little more, from fidgeting to walking to lunch – it all counts.

In my next post, I’ll talk about changing your body composition so you'll burn more calories even when you're asleep.

Michelle May, M.D.
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