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When it comes to heart disease, weight gain around your middle is more dangerous for your cardiovascular health than extra weight in your thighs and hips. But research now shows that if you gain fat tissue in your thighs, that increase can give rise to other difficulties.
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.