Many people misunderstand the goal of lifting weights. To them, pumping iron is either about physical power or body sculpting. But there’s a much more compelling reason for us to have healthy, strong muscles than appearance. Muscle tissue burns three times as many calories as fat, even when you’re doing nothing more strenuous than watching television. Muscles burn calories around the clock — yes, even when you sleep — at a greater rate than other body tissue. That’s why you need to keep making and maintaining muscle as you age: to keep your body’s ongoing fat-burning metabolic engine revved.
In fact, it’s never too late to fan those flames with resistance training. One recent 12-week study found that men and women age 60 and older lost an average of four pounds simply by lifting weights three days a week, without changing diet or exercise — more evidence that lifting weights helps you beat the battle of the bulge, and doesn’t make you “bulky,” as novice weightlifters fear.
How to get started? Get some hand weights, put them by your bed, and each morning spend 10 minutes strengthening a different part of your body. Rotate through upper body moves, lower body moves, and belly and back moves. A small daily dose of focused muscle strengthening is all you need to stay toned, and keep your calorie-burning engine on fire.
Plus: How to Create a Home Gym