OBJECTIVE: To examine the effects of aging and physical activity on distribution patterns in subcutaneous and visceral fat. METHODS: Distributions of subcutaneous rat mass at six segments (face and neck, forearm, upper arm, trunk, thigh, and lower leg) were determined by adipose tissue thickness measurements by B mode ultrasonogram and body surface areas. Visceral fat mass was calculated by subtracting subcutaneous fat mass from the total fat mass determined hydrodensitometrically. Measurements were made on young and middle aged, trained and sedentary women (four groups). RESULTS: Per cent body fat was lower in trained than in sedentary individuals, both in the young and the middle aged subjects. The distribution of subcutaneous fat mass differed between sedentary and trained women. Trained young women had a reduced subcutaneous fat mass compared to sedentary young subjects in all segments except face and neck; the disparity between middle aged sedentary and trained women was limited to upper arm and trunk (P < 0.01 each), with no significant difference in face and neck, forearm, and lower limb segments. Differences in visceral fat mass between sedentary and trained subjects were similar for young and middle aged women (young, 2.5 v 3.7 kg; middle aged, 4.0 v 6.5 kg). CONCLUSIONS: Women who exercise regularly appear to accumulate less adipose tissue, especially in upper arm and trunk segments as they get older, with visceral fat mass remaining lower than in sedentary individuals.
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