Column 1 - Body Type

Original publication date: September 7, 1983

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror. Not just your face, the whole body. Take all your clothes off and really look.

If you see a man or woman standing straight, who is trim and fit without excess fat, give yourself a pat on the back and keep up the effort. If, on the other hand, you see sloping shoulders fatty waistline and back, pot belly and more chins than are worth counting, consider yourself one of the over 50 per ecent of Canadians carrying excess weight and fat.

Reference for up to date information for adults in Canada.

Government of Canada page with statistics about obesity and weight in Canada.

All you need to do is people watch for a few minutes. It's not uncommon to see fat adults. Lots of them.

Not everyone, however, can be slim and trim. Due to great variations in physical proportions, bodily structures, and chemical composition, there are no two people alike.

Human bodies are commonly divided into three types. The ectomorph, mesomorph, and the endormorph.

Most of us share the characteristics of one, two or even three of the body types.

The extreme ectomorph has a slender body with long legs, arms, feet and hands, a slender chest, and very little fat on small bones. He would have a good appetite but have trouble gaining weight. His nervous system would probably keep his muscles overtensed.

The extreme mesomorph has a square, muscular build with firm flesh, large chest, relatively short arms and legs, and is usually vigorous.

The extreme endomorph would have soft even flabby tissues that would give him a round obese appearance. Short neck, double chin, and wide hips would also be common. Someone with this body type could be overtaxing his heart because of excess weight unprepared muscles have to carry.

Body density also plays an important role in understanding your body and how to change it. Body density is the ratio with which you expand energy that you absorb. If you eat a fair amount of food without expending energy (without exercise) you would have low body density. The energy you absorb would become fatty depeosits in your body tissues. Fatty tissues are larger than other body tissues and are lazy in burning energy. You would find that your measurements would become larger while your weight remains the same.

Some people find that when they initially start an exercise program they gain a few pounds. This could be terribly frustrating if weight loss was the main reason for exercise. This type of person would have high body density. If you burn up more food energy than you absorb (such as doing more exercise, while eating the same as before starting an exercise program), you have to rely on stored energy to keep going. The fatty contents of the tissue converts to muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may gain a few pounds, or lose only inches before weight loss.

The higher the body density, the better. If you have low body density, you have to work hard at keeping the time spent on exercise to be more than the time spent on eating. The higher the density the fitter you will become. Fat-free tissues yield more energy with less strain.

Look at your body again. Determine your body type. Think back to any exercise experience. Did you lose weight and not inches? Inches and not weight? Both determine your body density.

Once you determine both factors you can pick an exercise program that suits the needs of your body. You can minimize the undesireable traits and perfect the positive traits that are inherent in your body type.

Copyright 2020 K.L. McCluskey, all rights reserved.