If you think that you can tell if a person is fat or fit just by looking at them, you are sadly mistaken. There are people out there who are skinny but definitely not fit.
The issue with being skinny but not fit is that you do not reap any of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as, longevity, low blood pressure, low blood sugar and normal cholesterol levels.
How do you determine if you are fat or fit?
The scale is not the way to go. Body composition is what you need to worry about. Body composition is the amount of lean tissue as opposed to fatty tissue in your body.
Depending on your age and sex, the amount of body fat that you need varies, but a good bet is keeping it between 11-24 percent for males and 16-28 percent for females.
There are several different ways to figure out your body composition. The most accurate are taken while you are suspended in water or air and are usually only available in a college or clinical setting.
Another option is to see a personal trainer and have a pinch test. The pinch test involves calipers and several different points on your body being pinched to check how much fat versus lean mass is there.
The least accurate but cheapest and most available option is an electrical impedance test. These are available in several different forms, scales you can have at home, or hand- held devices as well.
Why should I care about my body compositions?
Having a good body composition can help in several ways. Having more muscle mass will raise your metabolism. Having a higher metabolism rate will mean you can burn more calories at rest.
Increasing your muscle mass also will increase your strength. Imagine that. With an increase in strength you will be able to enjoy your independence longer in life and with things that you do now.
Increasing your muscle mass will also increase your cardiovascular efficiency. You will be able to do more cardio for a longer amount of time. While getting cardiovascular exercise is important, and you should strive for 30 minutes at least four days a week. You should also work in a strength training workout at least two days a week.
How do I get a good body composition?
The first step is the base of good health. Make sure you are eating a balanced diet. Nutrition is the stepping stone to a healthy lifestyle. Make sure that you also are watching your portions. Know what a portion looks like and stick with the amount you should be eating.
To increase muscle mass, you need to lift weights. Incorporate big multi-joint movements into your workout routine. Make sure that you also are doing your cardio workout. If you are doing your cardio and weight training, do not worry about what the scale says. The more important number is your body composition.
Page 2 of 2 - Candace Davidson is the wellness director for the McPherson Family YMCA. She has a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology and is an AFAA certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor.