You may think you're doing all you can to keep your metabolism going strong, but chances are, you're missing a few key steps.  Here, Nicki Anderson, a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and president of Reality Fitness Inc., offers insight on how to make your body blast away as many calories as possible.

  • Strength train. "One of the biggest missing pieces for people 45 and over is they just don't strength train," Anderson says. "Strength training increases your lean muscle mass, which requires more energy to function. The more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate." Studies show that metabolism stays elevated for 24 hours after a strength-training session versus just an hour for a cardio workout. And women shouldn't be afraid of bulking up--they simply won't get as big as men.
  • Do intervals. Instead of plodding along on the treadmill at the same pace for the same amount of time every day, switch up your routine: Walk fast for a few minutes, then slow down for the same amount of time, then repeat the sequence. Intersperse running and walking. Or add hills to your workout instead of staying on a flat path to generate a greater calorie burn. According to Anderson, "interval training teaches the heart and muscles to use oxygen more efficiently."
  • Get some variety. Your body will respond better if you surprise it by doing different movements rather than sticking with the same routine all the time. Try engaging in your regular workout two or three times a week and adding one or two new forms of fitness on other days.
  • Eat breakfast. Sadly, skipping breakfast is common in our busy society. But partaking of a morning meal is a necessary part of being fit and healthy. During a fast-such as the hours you spend sleeping-your metabolic rate drops, according to Anderson. Breakfast is a wake-up call to your body that there's work to be done and calories to be burned. Plus, a morning meal will give you the energy to engage in your workout.
  • Don't undereat. Have you ever starved yourself and wondered why the weight didn't come off? Although it sounds counterintuitive, experts say that eating too little can backfire and cause you to hang onto unwanted calories because your body senses it needs to conserve its resources. "Let's use a coal-burning analogy," Anderson explains. "If you don't keep feeding coal into the oven, the fire dies down. Similarly, if you don't eat enough food, your metabolism slows down." Try not to go below 1,200 calories a day.


Source: Nicki Anderson, IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year.