Importance of Body Composition and Health

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bendigo-body-composition Most people are aware of the importance of being a healthy weight and the impact that excess weight has on their health. However for most of us, when we think excess weight, we actually mean excess body fat. In reality, our absolute weight is arbitrary; just a number on the scale. Our body composition, or the relative proportions of different tissues (muscle, fat, bone, and organs) is more closely related to health status, rather than weight alone.

Our bodies need a certain percentage of fat for health (essential fat). Fat helps regulate hormones, protect organs and is a source of energy. Men require approximately 3% of body fat for health, whereas women require 12%. A body fat percentage above this level is non-essential fat. Research shows that the healthy ranges of body fat are 10-22% for men and 20-32% for women, where body fat percentages above this level can become a risk to the individual’s health. With this in mind, monitoring body fat percentage, rather than weight alone is important.

Body fat can be measured in a number of ways, including underwater weighing, DEXA scans and skin fold testing, to name a few. Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is popular, as it is non-invasive and time efficient. BIA works through measuring resistance in the body via an electrical current. As fat has a decreased water concentration, BIA detects increased resistance in the body with increased fat mass, allowing an accurate estimation of body composition.

Knowledge of body composition can provide guidance with respect to training goals and programming. Many people have the goals of decreasing weight and increasing muscle tone, which essentially comes down to optimizing their body composition by decreasing stored fat and increasing lean body mass. Resistance training is therefore an essential element of any weight loss plan, as it helps to preserve lean mass and optimize body composition, particularly during weight loss. Cardiovascular exercise is also beneficial, as it increases energy expenditure as well as improving overall health. However, it is important to remember that our bodies will adapt to the training stimulus presented and therefore training plans need to be progressive to facilitate ongoing results.

InBody570_FrontalViewA valuable nutrition-related measurement the InBody 270 offers is the assessment of Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).  BMR is the number of calories (specific to you) needed daily to sustain life and body functions at a resting state.  Your BMR is related to your amount of lean body mass – more lean body mass equates to a higher BMR.  This is because muscle requires significantly more energy to maintain than fat tissue.  Thus, increasing lean body mass effectively increases your metabolism, making it a valuable
strategy for weight loss and weight maintenance.  Nutrition strategies to help optimize body composition (meaning decreasing stored fat and increasing lean body mass) include gradual, rather than rapid, weight loss and increasing dietary protein intake.

Ridge Athletic Clubs is pleased to announce that we now can offer body composition testing with the InBody 270. The InBody device is the most accurate BIA machine on the market. As well as providing an accurate assessment of percentage body fat, the InBody also can provide segmental analysis of lean body mass. This allows a greater insight into your body composition and more specific and individualized training.

For more information or to schedule an Inbody assessment, please contact us at the Ridge Athletic Clubs at 406-586-1737.


Articel By: Erin Lyons, ACSM-EP-C and Katie Sonnek, RD, LN