(CNN) – As we get older, it becomes harder to get rid of that spare tire, also known as the “middle-age spread.”
However, doctors say if you’re diligent, you can win the battle of that bulge.
For Debra Matassino, daily walks with her dogs used to be just for fun. But since she turned 50, that exercise is a necessity. “I would put on some pounds, but eventually I would reel it in, watch what you are eating and they would drop off like that. But, oh my gosh, it’s so hard.”
Frustrating, but inevitable for most people. It’s middle age spread.
According to a recent study at the National Institutes of Health, a primary cause of that ‘spare tire’ is a hormone called leptin, which tells your body you’re full. As you age, those signals get weak.
Dr. Susan Tanner from Southern Environmental Medicine Center says, “[This] increases appetite, which also increases more fat deposition into these areas of middle age spread we’re talking about.”
An aging body does not need as many calories as it once did, when it was more active and growing. So that means watching what you eat, cutting out fatty foods and eating less.
As we hit middle-age, other systems in our bodies – like the adrenal glands and the thyroid – slow down and produce fewer hormones, contributing to weight gain.
Dr. Tanner says, “There is also some break down in muscle mass as well. How do you maintain muscle? Exercise.”
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