Body Shapes, Diet & Exercise Print

Experts have identified four basic body shapes which can be worked with to improve overall health.

Apple shape: excess weight is carried around the abdomen. Weight gain concentrates around the stomach and results in a rounded profile. People who carry extra weight around the middle are at higher risk of diabetes, heart problems, breast cancer, depression and fertility issues.

To reduce your waistline, you should opt for a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise daily (such as running, swimming, cycling and aerobics) to target fat and improve heart health. Reduce calories (sticking to around 1500 calories a day), opting for low-GI foods and cutting out saturated fats as far as possible. Stress can lead to storage of fat around the middle and should be balanced with relaxation exercises.

Ruler shape: fat is distributed evenly and measurements of chest, hips and waist are all relatively similar, giving the body a straight ruler shape. Metabolism is faster than those of other shapes, however without an appropriate diet and exercise plan, ruler-shapes tend to gain weight on the stomach, leading to similar health issues as apple-shapes.

Regular cardio workouts are essential for keeping weight off and maintaining good health. Ruler-shapes should practice resistance training to sculpt the body. By building up muscles in the chest and buttock area and tightening their core, ruler-shapes can create definition and add curves. Many ruler-shapes are naturally thin; however a poor diet can still lead to poor health and energy levels. Choose a balanced diet high in nutritious foods rather than empty calories.

Pear shape: Women of this shape have a larger hip than bust measurement and weight tends to settle on the lower part of the body ? the buttocks, hips and thighs. Such women are at greater risk of dangerous blood clots including deep vein thrombosis and are more likely to suffer from memory loss and arthritis later in life. On the other hand, fat stored in the buttock area mops up harmful fatty acids and cuts the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

To help maintain a healthy weight, pear-shaped women should focus on cardio exercises which target the lower body such as step aerobics, cycling and walking. Resistance training for the upper body can also help balance out your shape. Pear-shaped ladies should also implement a healthy, balanced eating plan which can help with weight maintenance as well as helping to prevent cellulite. Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off memory problems and Alzheimer?s, which appear to be more widespread in pear-shaped women.

Hourglass shape: Hip and bust measurements are of a similar size, with a much narrower waist measurement. Weight gain tends to accumulate on the chest, arms, hips and buttocks rather than the abdomen.

Hourglass-shaped women are lucky in that weight distribution tends to be even, rather than accumulating in one particular area of the body. They also tend not to gain weight on the abdomen.

Hourglass figures tend to be quite well balanced, so they should focus on maintaining their shape with full-body workouts such as circuit training; combining cardio to keep off excess weight and resistance training to tone up. A healthy balanced diet will also help you maintain your curves. As curvy hourglass women are also prone to back pain, try doing exercises which strengthen the core and improve posture such as Pilates, and make sure you invest in a good, supportive exercise bra for all workouts.
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