Wellness Wednesday - Opposite but not equal

by Chuck Brown, UNMC public relations | March 11, 2009

picture disc.An old children's riddle goes something like this, "What weighs more ... five pounds of feathers or five pounds of rocks?"

Of course, this easily fools 5-year-olds and feeble-minded newsletter editors, as five pounds are five pounds -- be they feathers or rocks.

But it also leads to another question, which packs more punch? (EDITOR'S NOTE: Hit me with the feathers, please!)

In a bit of a twist on the riddle, consider the picture below, which features models commonly used by Jayme Nekuda, director of the UNMC Employee Benefits and Work-Life Programs Division of Human Resources and UNMC's wellness manager, to illustrate what five pounds of fat looks like compared to five pounds of muscle.

picture disc.
The red muscle model shows tissue that is lean, dense and metabolically active, which means it burns energy (and fat) even while at rest.

The fat meanwhile is obtuse, unruly and basically useless, unless one exercises enough to burn it as energy.

The benefits of increased muscle mass are many as are the health dangers of having excess body fat.

So when it comes to these two substances, the riddle is easy to solve, only muscle truly packs a punch.