A new study has shown that thigh fat may be to blame for slowing down your walking speed in later life.
According to research by the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, those of us with fatter thighs are more like to lose mobility as we grow older.
Older adults who gain the most thigh fat and lose the most thigh muscle are at greatest risk of experiencing a clinically meaningful decline in walking speed, said the study's lead author Kristen Beavers in a statement.
"As the burden of disability becomes increasingly common and expensive, identification of modifiable contributors to functional decline in older adults is emerging as a significant priority of public health research," said Beavers.
"Future studies building on these findings should test whether targeted reductions in thigh intermuscular fat, augmentation of thigh muscle area, or both yield improvements in walking speed and prolonged independence for older adults."
Walking speed declines with age, added Beavers, and can be a predictor of disability, nursing home admission and even death.
Unfortunately, not much is known about what precedes this decline, although scientists speculate that ageing-related changes in body composition, which leads to fat accumulation in and around muscles could be related to slowed walking speed.
The findings underline that the prevention of age-related declines in walking speed isn't just about preserving muscle mass, it's also about preventing fat gain.
Researchers reviewed 2,306 men and women with a mean age of 74.6 years. Full results will be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.