Are your thighs a weighty trouble spot?

January 14, 2016

If you’re like me, you’re probably sick and tired of seeing anorexic-looking models in magazines and on TV, and hearing about how to achieve their signature “thigh gap” through extreme dieting and exercise.

Thankfully, society seems to be taking a turn towards a healthier body image that may lead to less glorification of the thigh gap craze, and others like it that set us up for unachievable — and unhealthy — standards.

But there is one very important reason you should still pay attention to the amount of weight you carry on your thighs…

Scientists at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have found that when you add fat throughout your thighs, you’re setting yourself up for a loss of mobility as you grow older. You’ll walk slower and have more trouble getting around. Fatty tissue in your thighs is predictive of mobility loss in otherwise healthy older adults.

Your walking speed slows with age, says researcher Kristen Beavers. As you grow older, though, a significantly slower walking speed means you’re more likely to become disabled, have to live in a nursing home and risk a higher probability of dying sooner.

Beavers believes that walking speed represents an important, and potentially modifiable, predictor of independent living for older adults. But not much is known about what precedes this decline, although changes in thigh fat may start the process.

Beavers warns: “As people age, they are more likely to gain fat in and around their muscles, and we speculated that gaining fat in the leg muscle itself would be related to slowed walking speed.”

Walking every day and exercising your legs may help to slow this deterioration. But don’t put it off. If you want to keep you independence and be able to keep moving around as you age—and doing the things you enjoy—start today.

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