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Body shape

There are many different terms in use to describe human body shape type. The most commonly used are the "apple" and "pear" classification, popular in the press, and the somewhat the more scientific-sounding classifications of ectomorph, endomorph and mesomorph, often used in the health community. So what do the body shape type terms all mean?

The system of dividing body shape into apples and pears is an easy one to understand. If your body shape is described as being an apple, it means that you are 'round in the middle' with your waist larger than your hips and thighs. If, however, you are described as a pear, it means that you are 'bottom heavy', with more weight around your hips and thighs, and less in your upper body.

The theory of Somatypes was developed by Dr. William H Sheldon in the 1940s. His theory described three basic human body types: the endomorph, the mesomorph, and the ectomorph. Although the system is not strictly scientific in basis, is often accepted as being so.

The ectomorph is characterised by having low body-fat levels and a thin structure, and they usually find it hard to put on weight of any kind. Endomorphs are generally of larger skeletal structure. They gain weight easily, with most of it coming in the form of body fat. Mesomorphs are naturally muscular, with a medium or large frame, and are relatively lean. Sheldon felt that most people were a mixture of these three types.

The reality is, however, that no matter how you choose to classify or describe yourself, the basic principles of good diet and regular exercise will still be what will keep you fit and healthy.




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