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Exercise for Your Body Type

Are you Doing the Right Exercise for your Body Type?

by naturopath Vicky Jane

What happens when you really do not like to exercise, and you have tried everything?  If this is the way you feel, then you need to look a little deeper at why you are not finding something you enjoy, or maybe when you have exercised in the past you have not seen results.  Try and change your mind, rather than look at the exercise from a weight loss point of view, try to see it from an energy point of view, stress management, pain relief, or even just some time out. Somehow find the motivating force for you; sometimes exercising for the sole purpose of weight loss can make exercise seem like a form of punishment.

I find that time and time again, my clients come to me for personal training sessions to lose weight, but find it is the improved energy and enhanced self esteem that keeps them on track. When that happens the weight just falls off and normalises. Unfortunately this is not something you can give to anyone; this has to be an inner realisation.
Maybe exercise for you is a body shape issue; what I mean by this is for some women, they carry more weight around their bottoms and thighs, or for men it may be on the abdomen and their legs are thin.  This can mean when general cardiovascular exercise has been done in the past, limited results were achieved.  If this is the case then strength training is the key, as not only does strength training have the ability to change body shape, it increases muscle, thereby increasing metabolism.  This produces faster weight loss and results.

I remember when I was a young adult; I had the classic pear shape body, or Gynaeoid.  What I did was start running to lose the weight; however I lost weight all over, especially from the top half of my body, where I did not need to.  It wasn’t until I was well into my late thirties that I found the benefit of weight training.  I was so weak I could not even do a push up; my arms just did not have the strength, and you know what, upper body exercise is the best thing for a woman to do, as it enhances self esteem and posture. Just the simple push up gives confidence, even better, gives strength, and balances the body shape and this goes for men too. Strength training gives us the opportunity to change our shape, like no other form of exercise.

Ok, so what can we do? A combination of strength, cardiovascular exercise and stretching is ideal, however many of us are time poor.  With this in mind, interval training is often the best approach.  Interval training is combing bursts of extra energy or strength work with cardiovascular exercise; this gets the blood going to different parts of the body, and fatiguing different areas of the body, allowing for a more intense workout, therefore quicker results.

What follows is a brief outline of each body type (for more information read “The Body Shaping Diet” by Dr Sandra Cabot).  Listed for each of the body shapes are the priority exercises.  Remember, walking is something everybody is built for, so it may be the best cardiovascular exercise to begin with, in combination with a strength training routine.  We live in the most amazing country, blessed with beautiful beaches, amazing bushland and rainforest, and most of our cities have wonderful parkland.  We do not have the pollution like so many other countries, so get outside and breathe in some good Aussie air!

Basic Features and Health Risks of each Body Type

1. Android Body Shape (refer to “The Body shaping Diet” for more details)
General body shape of the Android female is a relatively straight up and down appearance; the abdomen, chest and neck are thicker and the pelvis is small.  They lack feminine curves and have muscular buttocks and powerful muscular thighs.  The pelvis area does not have any curve. Generally their bones in their limbs, hands and feet are large and they have more muscle mass and less fat tissue than most women unless they become overweight. When weight gain occurs, fat is deposited in the upper part of the body, above the pelvis. This creates an over thickening and gives rise to “apple-shaped” obesity. This body shape needs to eat food to stimulate the liver and to improve its ability to metabolise cholesterol and break down excessive steroid hormones.   If android women become overweight they are at risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.

2. Gynaeoid Shape (refer to “The Body shaping Diet” for more details)
General shape is a characteristic “pear” shape, with the body flaring outwards towards the hips and thighs.  The main concern for this body type is oestrogen dominance, meaning body fat will tend to be attracted to the thighs, buttocks, breasts and later over the lower abdomen in front of the pubic bone. Generally speaking these women will crave sweet and maybe dairy food for comfort, and if eaten tend to place more stress on the digestive tract and liver, leading to further difficulties in hormonal balance and stubborn weight gain.  When this body type tries to lose weight relying only on cardiovascular exercise, the weight seems to move from the top part of the body first, leading to a thinner face, neck, arms and breasts, but excess weight remain in the hip area.

3. Lymphatic Shape (refer to “The Body shaping Diet” for more details)
The shape of the Lymphatic type is general thickening and puffiness of the body.  This is due to the fact that she retains water easily, especially in her limbs, which causes thick arms and legs with a straight up and down look along their length.  The ankles and wrists are thick and puffy as well.   The thick up and down look comes from the accumulation of fluid and fat in the tissues under the skin (subcutaneous layer) which is evenly distributed over the bone and muscle structure. If they become obese the fat will be distributed all over the body, in the legs, feet, arms, hands, buttocks, abdomen, trunk, neck and face.  They are often “chubby” and most find that they gain weight easily.

4. Thyroid shape (refer to “The Body shaping Diet” for more details)
General shape of the Thyroid type is characterised by a narrow streamlined shape with long limbs and fine bones. They are often bony in appearance with their ribs and bony protuberances “knobs” around their joints being very evident.  If weight gain occurs, fat is first deposited around the abdomen and upper thighs, with the upper part of the body remaining slim.

Suggested exercise strategies for each body type

1. Android Body Shape
Strength training:      Low weights high repetition of movement
Cardiovascular:        Interval training, walking,
Flexibility:                  Yoga, breathing exercises

2. Gyanoid Body shape
Strength training:      Higher weights, concentrate on upper body sculpting (chest, shoulders and back)
Cardiovascular:        Swimming, running, interval training
Flexibility:                  Yoga, Pilates, breathing exercises

3. Lymphatic Body Shape
Strength Training:    Higher weights, high reps, circuit training
Cardiovascular:        Walking, running, dancing, interval training
Flexibility:                  Yoga, Pilates, breathing exercises

4. Thyroid Body Shape
Strength Training:    Higher weights, high reps, circuit training
Cardiovascular:        Walking, dancing, anything
Flexibility:                  Yoga, Pilates, breathing