Use it or Lose it (Part 34)

This is one of my favorite pictures from a research paper out of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In it, you get to see the results of an active versus sedentary lifestyle on the leg musculature. It resurfaces every once in a while (most recently from Dr.  Ben House), and I’m fascinated by it every time.

This picture tells a very interesting story that goes on under the surface of the skin. That white stuff around the dark center? Yep, that’s fat. And a whole lot less muscle. And it reflects two different paths to these leg mass distributions. 

Maintenance of muscle mass may be one of the most critical things that you can do to prevent obesity and stave off the aging process. Not only does it help you remain stronger and less likely to get hurt, this metabolically active tissue likely acts to stave off metabolic dysfunction.

Technology and effortless food availability have made it easier than ever to start down the path to the middle picture. The good news is that it’s never too late to reverse the process. But why wait?

Wroblewski AP, Amati F, Smiley MA, et al. 2011. Chronic exercise preserves lean muscle mass in masters athletes. Phys Sports Med 39(3):172-78.