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Med City - What is body composition and how does it affect your exercising needs?
Body composition is not the same thing as body type; it's not another way of describing a person who is "large-boned" or someone who has a "small frame."
"Body composition, very simply, is the percentage of fat mass compared with lean body mass," explained Kathleen Lynch, MS, Exercise Physiologist, UH Case Medical Center.
How does body composition affect your exercising needs? Do people need to approach exercise differently, depending on their body composition?
Well, yes, and no.
"Someone with a higher percentage of body fat needs to engage in cardiovascular, aerobic exercise to facilitate excess fat loss," Lynch said. While everyone should get at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular aerobic activity daily, someone who needs to lose weight probably needs to do considerably more.
Conversely, someone who is rather thin needs to focus on getting enough calories before cardiovascular exercise, so the body doesn't burn existing muscle during exercise, Lynch said.
A good exercise regimen for most people, regardless of body composition, includes a combination of strength training and aerobic activity.
Lynch recommends two to three days a week of strength training, and "at least four to five days of aerobic exercise." More, obviously, is recommended for those who are trying to lose weight.
To get an accurate measure of your body composition, see a doctor or certified strength and conditioning expert at a reputable fitness center, where you can get an accurate evaluation.