Seminar offers tips to avoid 'middle age spread' of weight gain

We all know that it can be more difficult to get fit with age.

So much so that there's a term for the weight gain experienced by women in their 40s and 50s. It's called the "middle-age spread."

The spread is such a big issue that Providence Health and Services is now offering various seminars for women in the midst of it. These women have a lot in common - they're busy working and take care of kids or aging relatives.

"Our lives get really crazy. We get really busy and a lot of times the focus on us is gone," said Tammy Lundervold, a Providence fitness specialist.

The spread typically affects women in the years right before menopause and afterward. The symptoms include weight gain, particularly in the tummy area. Metabolism slows, leaving more fat and less muscle tissue, which makes it harder to burn calories.

So what can we do to combat the spread? Fitness experts recommend gradually becoming more active and not getting stuck on the length and number of days you exercise. Another critical piece: You have to practice nutritious eating.

"When it comes to weight loss, you get a lot more bang for your buck watching what you eat than you do trying to exercise it all off," recommends Janet Mann, a Providence outpatient dietitian.