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Thursday, February 09, 2006

MEASURING YOUR PERCENTAGE OF BODY FAT

Your percentage of body fat is another good measuring stick for your
level of fitness. Unfortunately, people often tend to judge their fitness
level according to what the scale says. We want to break you of this
habit. This is very important because the percentage of your body
which is fat is a much better measurement of your fitness level than
the above mentioned scale.

The most accurate and expensive method of measuring body fat is
hydrostatic emersion. This method can only be done in a laboratory
by a clinician. Another method uses electrical impedance. But you
need a special machine and a trained staff. The most affordable and
accessible method is to use skin-fold calipers. All you need is a
friend willing to pinch you a couple of times (remember to be
consistent with the sites measured). This form of measurement (if
done correctly and consistently) will give you a quality guide for
determining lean body mass vs. fat.

BODY FAT MEASUREMENTS (U.S.)

Men 26% Women 36% ----> OBESE
Men 24% Women 34% ----> AVERAGE
Men 18% Women 20% ----> GOOD
Men 14% Women 16% ----> ATHLETIC
Men 10% Women 12% ----> EXCELLENT
Men 06% Women 10% ---> BODYBUILDERS

SETTING BODY FAT GOALS

Even though society tries to impose an ideal body type on people,
everyone has unique genetic determinants. Therefore your body fat p
ercentage goals will be specific to you. Be advised that certain body fat
levels have risks. For example, if you fall into the obese category, you
are open to respiratory difficulties, high blood pressure, diabetes,
hardening of the arteries, coronary disease and failure, digestive
diseases and kidney problems.

Once you have determined your current percent body fat, you should
set a realistic short-term goal that will allow you to show small, and
continuous improvement. For example, if you fall into the Obese
category, set a short-term goal of losing enough fat to qualify as
Average. If you are presently Average, your immediate goal will be
Good. Get the idea? Set yourself up to succeed with small, attainable,
short-term goals!

A word of caution is needed if your body fat falls below a certain level:
4% for men and 10% for women--it may cause health complications. For
men they are minor, but for women they may include cessation of
menstrual activity and the inability to conceive. These problems will
reverse themselves when fat levels return to "healthy" levels.

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