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Perfect body shape plan

How to exercise and eat for your body shape

While we all come in different sizes and every body is unique, experts have identified four basic body shapes that all women fall into. Body shapes are largely determined by bone structure, genetics and age and, while lifestyle factors make a huge difference to the dimensions of your body, it can be difficult to change your basic shape.

There is good news, however, as by identifying your body shape, you can work with it to improve your overall health and appearance. Here are the four main female body shapes and what they mean for your health.

Apple with tape measure round
 

Apple shape

What is an apple shape?

Apple-shaped individuals carry excess weight around their abdomens (a “spare tyre") and lack a well-defined waistline. Weight gain tends to go straight to the tummy area and results in a rounded profile.

What does it mean for your health?

Unfortunately, apple-shaped women tend to be at greater risk of many health issues than those of other shapes. According to studies, those who carry extra weight around the middle are at higher risk of diabetes, heart problems, breast cancer, depression and fertility issues.

The apple shape diet and exercise plan

Anybody who is carrying excess weight will improve their health and fitness through diet and exercise. However, it is especially important for apple-shaped women to take steps to achieve or maintain a healthy weight. To reduce your waistline, you should opt for a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio exercise every day (such as running, swimming, cycling and aerobics) to target fat and improve heart health.

It is important to also make dietary changes by cutting back on calories (sticking to around 1500 calories a day), opting for low-GI foods and cutting out saturated fats as much as possible. As research also suggests that stress can lead to increased storage of fat around the middle, apple-shaped women may also find it helpful to supplement their cardio workouts with a relaxing form of exercise such as yoga or Tai Chi.

Ruler shape

What is a ruler shape?

The “ruler” refers to a body shape where fat is distributed evenly and measurements of chest, hips and waist are all relatively similar, giving the body a straight ruler shape. Ruler-shaped women are not exempt from weight problems (you can still be overweight and a ruler); however many slender women do fall into this category.

What does it mean for your health?

Ruler-shaped women tend to have faster metabolisms than those of other shapes, meaning that they can lose weight more easily through diet and exercise. However, without an appropriate diet and exercise plan, ruler-shaped ladies tend to gain weight on the stomach, leading to similar health issues as apple-shaped females.

The ruler shape diet and exercise plan

Luckily for ruler-shaped ladies, weight gain and loss tends to be pretty even. However, this can also cause frustration for women who long for a shapelier figure. As for those of all shapes, regular cardio workouts are essential for keeping weight off and maintaining good health; however, ruler-shaped women may also want to incorporate a program of resistance training to help sculpt the body. By building up muscles in the chest and bum area and tightening their core, ruler-shaped females can create definition and add curves.

Many ruler-shaped women are naturally thin; however it is still important for them to follow a healthy diet. While some slimmer individuals believe that they can eat whatever they want, a poor diet can still lead to poor health and energy levels regardless of your weight. Try to opt for a balanced diet high in nutritious foods rather than empty calories.

Pear shape

What is a pear shape?

According to researchers at the North Carolina State University, just over one fifth of women are pear-shaped, making it a very common body shape. Women of this shape have a larger hip than bust measurement and weight tends to settle on the lower part of the body; on the bum, hips and thighs.

What does it mean for your health?

To begin with the bad news, research has found that pear-shaped women are at greater risk of dangerous blood clots including deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and are more likely to suffer from memory loss and arthritis later in life. However, on a brighter note, studies have also found that having a big bum and thighs has some great health benefits, as fat stored in this area mops up harmful fatty acids and cuts your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

The pear shape diet and exercise plan

Although fat stored on the hips and thighs appears to be better for your health than that stored on the abdomen, being overweight still has health implications regardless of where it is stored. Furthermore, without careful weight management pear-shaped women can start to pile on weight on the abdomen and waist too.

To help maintain a healthy weight, pear-shaped women should focus on cardio exercises which target the lower body such as step aerobics, cycling and walking. Resistance training for the upper body can also help balance out your shape. Pear-shaped ladies should also implement a healthy, balanced eating plan which can help with weight maintenance as well as helping to prevent cellulite. Eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off memory problems and Alzheimer’s, which appear to be more prevalent in pear-shaped women.

Hourglass shape

What is an hourglass shape?

The hourglass shape is one of the most sought after body shapes but also one of the least common, belonging to just eight per cent of women. For hourglass-shaped women the hip and bust measurements are of a similar size, with a much narrower waist measurement. Weight gain tends to accumulate on the chest, arms, hips and bum rather than the abdomen.

What does it mean for your health?

Hourglass-shaped women are lucky in that weight distribution tends to be even, rather than accumulating in one particular area of the body. They also tend not to gain weight on the abdomen. Furthermore, research has suggested that women with hourglass figures are more fertile and may have higher intelligence levels.

The hourglass shape diet and exercise plan

Hourglass figures tend to be quite well balanced, so hourglass-shaped women should focus on maintaining their shape with full-body workouts such as circuit training; combining cardio to keep off excess weight and resistance training to tone up. A healthy balanced diet will also help you maintain your curves.

Like apple-shaped women, hourglass-shaped ladies may also wish to opt for relaxing exercises such as yoga, as studies suggest that stress can cause fat to shift from the hips to the waist. As curvy hourglass women are also prone to back pain, try doing exercises which strengthen the core and improve posture such as Pilates, and make sure you invest in a good, supportive exercise bra for all workouts.

 

Comments (1)

  • GoneFishin 'I'm hourglass shaped and occasionally suffer with my mid/lower back. Yoga isn't just good for relaxing, it's great for stretching out and streamlining muscles, beneficial for all shapes but particularly good for pear types too.'

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