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How To Measure Body Composition

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Obsessed with the number on your bathroom scale? Author and fitness expert Dr. Pamela Peeke explains why it's much more important to focus on your body composition than your weight.

Hi, I’m Dr. Pam Peeke. I’m the author of Body for Life for Women. Well, I want to talk to you about a problem, and that problem is your weight obsession. What’s the solution? Stop being so obsessed about weight and start paying attention to body composition. Science now shows that it’s not about how much you weigh, it’s about the quality of your body.

Well what’s body composition? Bone, fat, muscle. And so we want to know two things that will save your life and also keep you looking great. How do you do that? There’s only two things I want you to consider. Pay attention, first of all, to your girth. That’s right. Whip out a tape measure and measure right across the belly button. Not your pooch down below, but instead, right across the belly button. Now if you’re a woman, you better hope that number’s below thirty-five inches. If you’re a guy, below forty inches. Why is this so important? Because if you have too much fat deep inside your belly it increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

What’s the second factor? Body fat percentage. You have to know how much body fat you carry. Women, this is important because too much body fat all over your body increases your risk for breast cancer. Now how do you measure this? Easy. There are a lot of body fat scales out there and a lot of them are pretty cheap. Just hop right on it and see what that number is. Or you can have a trainer measure you with skin calipers. We have a lot of resources out there. Now, what the number should be: a guy, twenty to twenty-five percent. That’s the goal for most of your life. And for a woman? Well, it’d be great to stick around twenty-five percent, and as we get older and course through the forties, fifties, and beyond, you can go into the high twenties, but twenty-five percent is your goal. So, body composition is now where it’s at. Scale weight? So last year.

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