Body composition refers to the amount of fat you have, relative to lean tissue (muscles, bones, body water, organs, etc). This measurement is a clearer indicator of your fitness because regardless of what you weigh, the higher percentage of body fat you have (especially in the abdomen), the more likely you are to develop obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Body fat adds to your overall body weight, but it isn’t a force-producing tissue like muscle. This means you’re forced to carry it around, but it isn’t helping you in the process. Therefore, to optimize your body composition, it’s important to vary your fitness regimen and keep it balanced with both strength and aerobic exercises.

How to measure your body composition?

There are a number of methods used to assess body composition, some being more expensive, more cumbersome, and more accurate than others. A short list appears below:

  • Skinfold Measurements with Calipers
  • Underwater Weighing
  • Bod Pod
  • Bioelectrical Impedance
  • DEXA Scan (Dual X-ray Absorptiometry)

[link:13601:Click here for descriptions of these tests.:link]

What is a healthy body fat percentage?

The percentage of body fat that's ideal for you will vary based on your gender and age. Women naturally have a higher body fat to lean tissue ratio than men, and body fat naturally increases with age. If you have a body fat measurement taken, the practitioner will likely analyze the results for you specifically.