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J Aging Health. 2011 Mar;23(2):313-28. doi: 10.1177/0898264310388562. Epub 2010 Nov 16.

Association between muscle mass, leg strength, and fat mass with physical function in older adults: influence of age and sex.

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  • 1School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.



The purposes of this study were to determine the relationship between muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle quality, and fat mass with a composite measure of physical function in older adults, and to determine whether these relations differed by age and sex.


Participants consisted of 1280 adults aged ≥ 55 yr from the NHANES study. Reduced rank regression was used to identify patterns of muscle mass, muscle strength, muscle quality, and fat mass related to physical function.


A single relevant pattern emerged that included leg strength and fat mass as predictors of the 7 physical function variables. The leg strength loading was significantly greater than the fat mass loading in men and women aged 55-64 and ≥ 75, and differed between sexes.


Leg strength and fat mass best predict physical function in older adults and the relative importance varies according to age and sex.

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