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Article by Infofit

What Do Body Shapes Have To Do With Heart Disease?

We as people come in all body shapes and sizes.

Specific Body Shapes or Sizes Could Be Predictors for Heart Disease

First of all, everyone needs to know that we as people come in all body shapes and sizes. Just because someone doesn’t fit into the “media” norm does not mean the person is not healthy.  True health can only be ascertained by your physician with blood tests, blood pressure and other health checks. That said specific shapes or sizes could be predictors of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol amongst other diseases or conditions.

What is Your Somatotype ?

Human beings come in all body shapes and sizes or somatotypes. The term somatotype is a classification of humans developed by US psychologist W.H. Sheldon which he outlined in The Varieties of Human Physique (1940) and The Varieties of Temperament (1942). The three extreme body type classifications are as follows: endomorph, or round, fat type; mesomorph, or muscular type; and ectomorph, or slim, linear type.


The Endomorph tends to have more body fat and muscle. They have smaller shoulders, shorter limbs and a larger bone frame. This somatotype gains weight quickly, especially in the lower belly and hips, and find it harder to lose. It is believed that this is because their bodies are more likely to store “high carb” foods as fat instead of burning them. Female endomorphs are soft and curvy with a very “classic feminine” body shape. Male endomorphs have softer and rounder bodies, but when they gain muscle similar to mesomorphs, however, weight loss is difficult.


The ectomorph type is long and lean with thinner bones, smaller joints, little body fat, and find it hard to build muscle especially in the area of the chest and butt. They have a hard time gaining weight. Ectomorphs processes food quickly, which is why they find it so difficult to build muscle. Fashion models and basketball players fit readily into this category. Though they may look skinny and find it hard to put on weight, they can have more body fat than it seems, especially as you age. Some ectomorphs look thin on the outside, but internally, their body composition is unbalanced. Ectomorphs have to work harder on the weights to gain a toned physique. Ectomorph are slim, fragile, and delicate people. Bones in this somatotype tend to break much easier because your bones are very light to the touch than the other two body shapes since this body type is very fragile.


Mesomorphs have athletic, muscular builds with broad shoulders, a narrow waist, and low body fat. They add new muscle easily and don’t tend to store much body fat. Mesomorphs tend to take their natural athletic builds for granted, which can result in being in peak physical condition with scattered periods of poor eating and not enough training. Mesomorphs are naturally strong and lose and gain weight easily; their body type is well-suited to bodybuilding. Although they gain muscle easy, they also gain fat more easily than Ectomorphs.

What Does Your Body Shape Says About Your Health?

A is for Apple

People with an “apple-shaped” body, accumulate your weight around your hips and abdomen. People with “beer bellies” store fat around the stomach, while the lower body and arms stay thin. Sometimes you may feel like your limbs look like they belong to a more slender person.

The apple shape means you have a high percentage of belly fat which is often a sign that you have more fat deeper inside, around your internal organs, as opposed to just beneath the skin. That body shape is more closely linked to heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. For both genders, the apple body shape indicates lifestyle imbalances such as high level of stress, poor diet and very little physical activity.

Pears Are Opposite of the Apple

Pears have a slim upper body with a rounded lower body. This body type is commonly found in women who tend to carry extra fat in their hips and thighs. The good news for these people is that weight carried around your bottom and legs is due to subcutaneous fat instead of the more deadly visceral variety. Pear-shaped people tend to be significantly healthier than those with apple-shaped bodies. The reduced health risk is because fat accumulated on the hip is less likely to travel around the body, lowering the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

However, carrying extra weight can lead to an increased risk of osteoarthritis. Research shows that this body type has a more difficult time losing weight because weight stored in the bottom, hips and thighs is more difficult to mobilize.

Easy Body Composition Methods to Assess Your Health

While the shape of your body can be an indicator of how healthy your body is currently, it isn’t what your Personal Trainer will rely on to assess you. There are several calculations and anthropometric measurements your health coach will do with you during the initial assessment and throughout the year to assure you are progressing.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

The Body Mass Index calculation is derived from a simple math formula. It was devised in the 1830s by Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet, a Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist. It aims to estimate whether a person has a healthy weight by dividing their weight in kilograms (kg) by their height in meters squared. A score of 25 or more suggests you’re overweight; 30 or more points to obesity. It doesn’t tell you body fat, however, so it’s usefulness is limited to people who are sedentary, anyone with muscle will get erroneous results.

Waist Girth Measurement

How to measure the amount of fat around your belly isn’t a secret. Did you know that the amount of fat around your stomach can determine what your odds are for developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes?

How to measure your waist

Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.

Breathe out normally.

Place the tape measure midway between these points and wrap it around your waist.

According to the American Heart Foundation, your health is at risk if your waist size is over 80cm (about 31.5 inches) for women or Over 94 cm (about 37 inches) for men. Waist circumference is less accurate in some situations, including pregnancy, medical conditions where there is distension of the abdomen, and for certain groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, South Asian, Chinese and Japanese adults. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Waist to Hip Ratio

Waist to Hip Ratio is another calculation to assess the fat around your midsection. People who carry more weight around their belly, an apple-shaped body, are at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death than those who have more of their weight in the hips and thighs. Even if your BMI is in normal range, your risk for diseases will be increased.

WHR measures the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference. To measure it stand up straight and breathe out. Use a tape measure to check the distance around the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button. This is your waist circumference. Then measure the distance around the widest part of your buttocks. This is your hip circumference. Calculate your WHR by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy WHR is 0.9 or less in men or 0.85 or less for women. In both genders, a WHR of 1.0 or higher increases the risk for heart disease and other conditions that are linked to being overweight.

Give Yourself a Head Start by Exercising Safely and Often

Your genetics will determine your somatotype and whether you are more apt to become an “apple” or a “pear body type. However, YOU can actively take part in determining how healthy your temple (body) will be in the long run.

Exercise will help you to stop you from developing stubborn body fat. Exercise also helps to build muscle which in turn increases your metabolic rate so that you burn fat while at rest.

Participating in exercise 5 to 6 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes will ensure you live a healthier life. Hiring a personal trainer if you are new to exercise will ensure you have a well-rounded program and decreases any chances of injuring yourself.

It All Comes Back to the Kitchen

No matter what body type you possess trans fats and sugary food or drinks will increase your body fat. Let’s face it; you can’t out train bad nutrition habits. Creating a good nutrition plan based on whole foods that include plenty of free-range protein sources, vegetables, whole grains and a reasonable amount of low glycemic fruits will bring it all together!

Don’t have the knowledge to create your plan? Hire a sports nutrition advisor or nutritionist to make a successful plan for you. Nutrition can honestly make the difference between success and failure.

Put all of this together and you will live a healthy happy life with reduced risks of developing any serious health conditions!

Good Luck and Happy Training

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA-SFL