Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

How to keep your hourglass figure over 50

Siski Green / 11 January 2017 ( 27 July 2020 )

Find out how your body shape changes as you age, and what you can do to keep your hourglass figure.

Mature woman working out with hand weights
Building muscle mass helps to maintain a good body shape

Remember when you had a waist and curves?

If you’re wondering where they went, you’re not alone – a survey of 18,000 women found that while many women in their 20s and 30s have hourglass figures, older women tend to have more of an ‘apple’ shape, ie a thicker waist.

So why is it that women fill out in this way as they age and what can you do to get those curves back?

Need to talk to a GP from the comfort of your own home? Saga Health Insurance customers can talk to a qualified, practising UK GP 24 hours a day by phone. Find out more about our GP service.

Lose fat for your health

Fat tissue accumulates around your waistline, and also farther inside around your abdominal organs. ‘Middle-aged spread’ is, unfortunately, part of the ageing process.

A study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, found that even men who regularly exercised by running put on extra weight around their middle when they hit their 50s. Worrying about a widening waistline isn’t just a question of appearance, however, as it’s also a good indicator that fat is building up around your internal organs, which could impact your health.

Exercising for weight loss

The obvious way to prevent fat build-up is to make sure you eat a healthy balanced diet and to exercise but, as the US study indicates, that might not be enough. The study researchers suggest upping exercise levels as you age to counteract this effect. See your GP, though, before you undertake anything strenuous.

Read our guide to fat burning foods

Your bones can affect your body shape as you age

As you lose minerals, your bones may become less dense. Some bones may even recede as a result – women often experience teeth crowding, for example, because the jaw line actually reduces over time. As your bones act like scaffolding for your muscle and fat tissue, this can mean that parts of your body begin to sag, also changing your shape.

The health of your bones partly relies on your lifestyle in your earlier years – whether you exercised, how you ate and so on, but there is still a lot you can do now: make sure you include some weight-bearing exercises in your regular regime as these have been shown to improve bone strength and include calcium-rich foods in your diet such as yogurt, dark leafy greens and cheese.

How muscle-mass loss can bring on bingo wings

Along with your bones your muscles help hold everything together, but as you age, you naturally lose muscle mass, meaning not only that body tissue doesn’t sit in the same places, but also your skin doesn't either. Underarm ‘flaps’, rolls around your belly and so on, can all be a result of this process.

Prevent muscle loss

Building muscle mass

Although some muscle mass loss is natural as you age, you can fight it with strength-building exercises. These involving pushing or pulling with your body, so lifting weights, or using a resistance band, for example.

How to strengthen your muscles at home

How height-loss affects your body shape

Tall people naturally look slimmer than shorter people, even if they have similar sizes in terms of circumference. As you age, you lose height and this can also affect your own – and others – perception of your body shape.

Posture tips to help you look taller

While you can’t make yourself taller, you can work on your posture and add the illusion of height that way. Try standing against a wall: your body should touch the wall at the back of your head, at shoulder and bottom. That’s the stance to maintain. And, of course, you could always cheat with a pair of heels or in-steps!

How to improve your posture

Hormone imbalance can affect your body shape

As you age your hormone levels fluctuate and scientists theorise that they are at least partly to blame for changes in our figures as we age. Men’s testosterone levels tend to fall and women’s oestrogen levels, too.

Are your hormones making you fat?

Exercise and healthy eating is the way

Hormone replacement therapy may help although there are associated risks. Perhaps a more healthy option is to accept that while your body will change to some degree as you age, you can at least stay in good shape by eating well and exercising often.

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.