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Sports Med
Sports Medicine

Recommended Body Fat Levels:
Men and women carry fat in different places on their body. Men retain the greatest level of body fat in their abdominal area. Women retain the greatest level of body fat in their hips and thighs. The recommended body fat levels for men and women according to the American College of Sports Medicine are as follows:

Low: 6-10% fat
Optimal: 11-17% fat
Moderate: 18-20% fat
Obesity: Greater than 25% fat

Low: 14-18% fat
Optimal:19-22% fat
Moderate: 23-30% fat
Obesity: Greater than 30% fat

It 's considered unhealthy for men to have a body fat percentage below 3 percent and women to have a body fat percentage below 11 percent. A body fat percentage of over 20 percent for men and over 30 percent for women is also considered unhealthy. Consult the Getting Started section for additional details on having your body fat levels tested.

Body fat and body weight are affected by the following factors:

-Genetic body type (somatype)
-Daily dietary habits
-Physical activity level

Body Type or Somatype:

Somatype is another term for body type. Most people have a genetic predisposition toward one specific somatype and supportive traits from a second somatype. There are three genetic somatypes: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph.

-An ectomorph (endurance athlete) possesses a low body fat percentage level, small bone size, a high metabolism, and a small amount of muscle mass and muscle size.

-A mesomorph (power athlete) possesses a low to medium body fat percentage level, medium to large bone size, a medium to high metabolism, and a large amount of muscle mass and muscle size.

-An endomorph (nonathlete) possesses a high body fat percentage level, large bone size, a slow metabolism, and a small amount of muscle mass and muscle size.

Your body type is something you 're born with and can 't necessarily change. However, you obviously can change your dietary habits and level of physical activity to positively affect your body fat percentage.

Dietary Habits:

What you eat and the way you eat can greatly affect your body fat level as well as your overall health and well-being. Your nutritional needs will obviously vary depending upon your health and fitness goals. At the same time, even if your health goals are modest, it 's a good idea to get some sense of nutrition's role in total fitness. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that you can make minor changes to your eating habits and end up with a much healthier diet. Additional sub-sections in this section cover the topics of nutrition in greater detail, but if you want specific dietary recommendations, you should consult your doctor or a registered dietitian.

Body Fat Myths and Misconceptions:

There are a number of common myths and misconceptions about body fat. Banish these from your mind if you want to set yourself on a course for greater fitness and health. Myth number 1 is that fat can be turned into muscle, or vice versa. Muscle is a tissue and fat is a substance. Therefore muscle and fat cannot create one another.

Myth number 2 is that if you weigh more on the scale, you must be overweight. This is untrue. Muscle (lean body mass) weighs approximately 75 percent more than fat. In other words, you can increase your actual body weight without increasing your body fat. You can even increase your body weight and at the same time decrease your percentage of body fat.

Myth number 3 is that weighing yourself on a scale is the best way to determine if you are overweight and have too high a body fat level. In fact, feeling how your clothes fit on your body is a better way to measure body fat loss. You 'll also get a better sense of whether you 're losing body fat by looking in the mirror with no clothes on.

Physical Activity Levels for Body Fat and Weight Loss:

The amount of physical exercise you get has a profound effect upon your level of body fat. If you increase your physical activity level, you will expend greater amounts of calories and fat, depending upon how long and at what level of intensity you exercise (expending 3,500 calories burns up one pound of fat). Here are some general guidelines:

-Consistent aerobic/cardiovascular exercise (20 minutes, three times per week) will improve your cardiovascular system, increase your metabolism, and burn body fat. For additional details on cardiovascular training routines that will suit your needs, consult the Cardiovascular Training section.

-Consistent weight/strength training (20 minutes, three times per week) will increase your muscular strength, enhance your muscular endurance, result in a leaner body mass, and favorable affect your bone density. For in-depth cover of strength training routines, consult the Strength Training section.

-Stretching before and after exercise will increase the range of motion of your joints and muscles. Increasing your flexibility also decreases your risk of injury while exercising.

The following list points out the levels of risk for gaining body fat and overall body weight due to insufficient caloric expenditure.

-Optimal: 5,000 Kcals per week
-Moderate: 500-5,000 Kcals per week
-Obesity: Fewer than 500 Kcals per week

The RICE Principals for Sports Injury Care:

Rest (R)
Rest the injured body part for a certain period of time depending upon the condition of the injury. You may have to take a day off from work, use crutches, or simply refrain from participating in the activity that caused the injury.

Ice (I)
Ice (cold compress) is the best remedy for most injuries. 95 percent of injury cases require immediate application of a cold compress inside a plastic bag wrapped in a towel or paper towel.

Directly apply the cold compress to the injured area to decrease the amount of swelling or internal bleeding following a contusion or other musculoskeletal injury. The cold compress can significantly decrease the amount of pain, swelling, and muscle spasm in the injured area. A cold compress can also help you more quickly recover from your injury and return to normal activity.

When applying ice, you can use simple ice bags, commercial ice packs, ice massage, and, in some cases, you can completely immerse the injured area in ice. You can apply a cold compress for periods of up to 20 minutes (but no more), and you should not use a cold compress for more than two such intervals in an hour.

You can use a cold compress for up to 72 hours immediately following an injury, and can use it thereafter with localized swelling. If the pain and swelling do not decrease after 72 hours, please consult your physician or health care provider.

Compression (C)
Compression involves applying an elastic bandage to the injured area to control swelling or edema. When applying a compression bandage (always wrap from a far to a near direction), make sure that the wrap is not too tight, or you may impair circulation.

Elevation (E)
Elevation simply means using gravity to minimize swelling and to support venous and lymphatic circulation. This process facilitates removal of waste products associated with trauma and encourages the return to normal circulation.

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