The headline certainly caught my attention: “Can Thunder Thighs Help Heart Health?” As someone whose body type--at least when it comes to my thighs--is more akin to a drumstick than a gazelle, I must admit that I was more than just a bit skeptical. After all, with all the weight-related red flag risk factors when it comes to heart health (waist-hip ratio, waist circumference, body-mass-index, obesity and so forth), how could thunder thighs possibly be beneficial to your heart health?
According to one study conducted by researchers in Copenhagen, those with larger thighs may actually enjoy a lesser risk of heart disease (and associated premature death). The magic number seems to be 24 inches. Those with thighs less than 24 inches (you know – cute, little, skinny “girl” legs that can wear shorts in the summer and look good doing so) actually were found to have a higher risk of heart disease and premature death.
If your initial reaction (like mine) is to roll on the floor and laugh your thighs off at the thought of fat thighs being good for you, then take a moment when you stop to wipe the tears from your eyes and look at the study findings. The study consisted of more than 2,800 participants (1,436 men and 1,380 women). All participants were part of the Danish Monitoring Trends in and Determinants of Cardiovascular Disease study. Long term, researchers tracked cardiovascular and heart disease for 10 years, and death rate for 12 ½ years.
During the course of the study, the following subjects either died or developed heart disease:
• Cardiovascular disease: 263 men, 140 women
• Coronary heart disease: 103 men, 34 women
• Death: 257 men, 155 women
After adjusting for other risk factors for heart disease, researchers found that those with smaller thighs were at an increased risk, with the risk increasing when thighs were less than 24 inches. Researchers theorize that the reason participants with thinner thighs are at an increased risk for heart disease has to do with the fact that your thighs have less muscle mass than other parts of the body.