You’ve probably seen those social media “quizzes” about body shape predicting your health. If you’ve ever wondered if they are fun or fact, the answer is a little of both. The three general body types frequently discussed do correlate with differences in metabolism. Still, they are not as cut and dry as a social media quiz might suggest. For one thing, most people are a combination of types instead of one clear type.
But, more importantly, body shape is only one indicator. Your health status, as well as your personal health risk, depends on more than just a shape. And how you choose to take care of your shape is more important than assigning a type. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are essential to the health of every shape. Understanding your shape can help you tailor your diet and exercise for better, healthier results.
For health and fitness purposes, our body shapes can fall into one of the following categories or a combination of them:
Ectomorph – Generally thin. The ectomorph body type has long, lean limbs, a narrow frame, and is flatter all over than other types (specifically the butt and chest). They have smaller joints and bones too. To picture an ectomorph shape, you don’t have to look any farther than the nearest style or glamor magazine. Fashion models tend to be ectomorphs. You might also recognize the shape as a runner’s body.
Ectomorphs process food faster than other types, making it difficult for them to gain muscle and weight. These are the people you know that can eat whatever they want without gaining weight because their body type does not tend to store fat or build muscle.
Concerns: Thin doesn’t always equal healthy. Ectomorphs can have a high body fat percentage even though they are skinny. This body type may be able to eat whatever they want, but they shouldn’t. Healthy foods are still crucial to good health.
Mesomorph – Generally muscular. This body type has broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and low body fat. It’s what you might recognize as an athletic build. Mesomorphs find it easier to build muscle and lose fat than the other types.
Young mesomorphs make significant fitness gains with little effort. As they age, however, they tend to accumulate body fat they find difficult to lose.
Concerns: Although their higher muscle mass allows them to eat more calories than other shapes and burn them faster, when they do gain weight, it’s harder to lose. Staying on top of their health and fitness makes it much easier to maintain that healthy shape.
Endomorph – Generally curvy. This body type finds it much more difficult to manage weight and overall health. They are a softer, rounder body type featuring bigger bone structure, shorter limbs, smaller shoulders, and curves. Endomorphs find it challenging to keep body fat under control.
The endomorph body tends to store carbs as fat, especially in the lower abdomen and hips. They find it difficult to lose weight.
Concerns: The endomorph’s metabolism may be sluggish, and they tend to store fat. To stay healthy, endomorphs should limit carbohydrates and work out regularly.
Here’s what’s important. What societies see as attractive is not synonymous with healthy. Many very slim people are far from healthy and many very healthy people have curvy body shapes, but they exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet. It also nice to know that not every society worships a skinny body type. In Morocco, for example, slim is considered highly unattractive and only very curvy body shapes are considered beautiful.
No matter what your body shape, exercise and nutritious eating are the critical components to being healthy. We all have a natural body-shape tendency so try to make peace with that and instead of striving to change shape, strive for good health. At the end of the day, good health is what’s important.