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What's Your Fitness Type?

For many, starting and sticking to a long-term exercise programme requires a bit more than just hitting the treadmill. They should motivate themselves by determining their fitness type first, says a fitness expert.

"A person can want to exercise for a variety of reasons," said Michael Bracko, sports physiologist, Institute for Hockey Research, Alberta, Canada.

"Extrinsically, a physician could explain the ability of physical activity to lower blood pressure. Intrinsically, it can come from simply wanting to look and feel better."

Calculate Your Risk of Exercise

There are three basic body types: Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph. Some of us gain weight with difficulty, some of us put on fat easily and others easily maintain a high percentage of muscle mass. The genetic differences between individuals is great. Body type has little to do with athletic ability or coordination, it simply relates to metabolism and genetic predisposition to gaining fat or muscle or staying lean.

Ectomorph. The Ectomorph generally has very high metabolic rate making it difficult for them to gain both muscle and fat. The Ectomorph is a naturally lean individual. Ectomorphs need less aerobics and should do anaerobic / strength building resistance training with repetitions in the 6 to 10 range.

Mesomorph. Mesomorphs are the individuals who naturally have excellent proportions of muscle mass and can gain muscle relatively easily through resistance training. Some mesomorphs are very lean and defined with "six pack abs" with little or no exercise. Many professional bodybuilders are typically mesomorphs.

Endomorph. Endomorphs are people who tend to put on fat easily. Endomorphs tend to have a lower metabolic rate and require more aerobics and higher repetitions in resistance training, preferably 12 - 20 reps, in order to burn more calories. Adding muscle through anaerobic exercise helps the endomorph's fitness tremendously by increasing their basal metabolic rate (muscle burns more calories at rest than fat).

Tailoring the type of activity performed to each individual's lifestyle and ability is important too, says Bracko, who highlighted these five types of fitness:

- Functional fitness includes activities such as bowling, gardening and golf. These leisurely-yet-active pastimes are good for older adults who want to stay active as they age.

- Health-related fitness incorporates movement to enhance overall well-being. Mind/body exercises such as T'ai Chi and yoga are examples of health-related fitness, as are "kick-start" exercise activities such as walking.

- Physical fitness is for those who have made a conscious decision to work out on a regular basis. This encompasses what most people picture when thinking of exercise - cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.

- Recreational athlete fitness includes specialized sport training. These exercisers care about cross-training for general fitness, but have a dedicated focus on sport to keep them motivated to exercise.

- Elite athlete fitness is for a very small, specific population segment - those whose intent in specialized training is high-level training rather than improving fitness and having fun.

Beginners can use these fitness types to find their motivational niche, Bracko said, according to an American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) release.

"If someone is naturally competitive, they might consider training for a five-kilometre run to stay excited about exercise," Bracko said. "Alternatively, a noncompetitive older adult could consider joining a golf league to work in regular, fun, casual activity."

These findings were presented at the ACSM's 14th-annual Health & Fitness Summit & Exposition.


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