Body and Weight
Understanding our own bodies and what are the components of our body is the first step in helping us properly manage our body, our body weight, and our body fat. We all know that too much body fat is not healthy, but do we really know how much is healthy and how we can get to that healthy level?
Body Mass Index or BMI has been a generally accepted ratio using a person's height and weight to determine body weight status to a reasonable degree. This is a good indicator for the average person, but is not an effective measurement for athletes, body builders, marathon runners or those who effectively control their body fat. It is however, a good measurement for the largest percentage of people in the United States.
BMI does not take into account a person's lean muscle mass, frame size and free fat and/or water weight. Example: based on the BMI calculation, body builders may measure close to a 40% BMI during competition. In fact, most body builders' body fat percentage is probably close to 3% with body fat being in the range of something less than 15 pounds. A far cry from the estimated body fat of close to 125 pounds according to BMI calculations for a 200 pound man.
Body Fat Percentage and Overall Body Composition is a much better measure and change indicator for a person. Recognized by professionals as a much more important indicator of overall health, it is important that we understand the components of measuring Body Composition: Body Fat and Lean Mass.
Body composition is used to describe the percentages of fat, bone and muscle in human bodies. Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our body composition, as well as our weight, determines leanness. Two people at the same height and same body weight may look completely different from each other because they have a different body composition. A person's total body fat percentage is the total weight of the person's fat divided by the person's weight. The resulting number reflects both essential fat and storage fat. Essential fat is the amount of fat you need to be healthy and for your body to function properly. Having less than this amount of fat can be dangerous to your health. Generally speaking, a female's essential fat is 10-12% and a male's is 2-4%.
Lean body mass is everything in your body except body fat - muscles, bones, organs, blood, etc. Your lean body mass is just the inverse of your body fat percentage, or in other words, everything but fat is lean body mass. By decreasing body fat and increasing lean body mass simultaneously, you improve the ratio, which is what you want to do, as long as you don't go below your essential body fat percentage. You can use the above Body Fat Percentage Comparison chart as a general guideline. How can you increase your Lean Body Mass? You can increase your lean body mass through resistance training, which increases strength and muscle mass. Additionally, cardiovascular exercise can improve your lean body mass in your lower extremities.
Managing Body Fat
How can you decrease your Body Fat Percentage? You can decrease body fat by burning more calories than you consume, and by exercising regularly with a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training.
To properly measure your Body Fat Percentage and Body Fat Pounds, you should measure your waist directly around the belly button. Measuring your waist where you typically wear your pants is not an accurate measurement. This calculator will give you an approximation of your body fat percentage and body fat weight.
A portion of the information above has been provided by the Center for Disease Control. As always, consult your healthcare professional/physician before you start any regular exercise program. If you feel you are at risk for high blood pressure, see your physician.