Body Types in Psychology, Diet, and Exercise

body types

Although modern psychologists discount Dr. Sheldon's findings on the three somatotypes, nutritionists, exercise physiologists, and many medical doctors use the concepts to promote good health and to formulate regimens of exercise and diet. The three basic body types are, Endomorph, Mesomorph, and Ectomorph.

Body Types in Psychology

Dr. Sheldon described the three basic body types as follows:
  • the extreme endomorph: a round and soft physique where all mass is concentrated in the abdominal area
  • the extreme mesomorph: hardness and squareness with large bones and well defined musculature
  • the extreme ectomorph: delicate and fragile with light bones and slight muscles
The vast majority of human beings are a combination of two and sometimes even three of these basic body types. For instance, a person can be an ecto-endomorph, or, pear-shaped, or, an endo-ectomorph , or, apple-shaped. These physical typologies are not rigid and also completely depend on hereditary factors, for example, the body types that peoples' parents or grandparents have.
The three basic body types manifest themselves in differing traits:
  • the extreme endomorph: high percentage of body fat, social seeking, likes to eat and to take life easy, non-athletic
  • the extreme mesomorph: small percentage of body fat, highly competitive, eats to live, power athlete
  • the extreme ectomorph: no body fat, private, eats little, endurance athlete

Body Types in Diet and Exercise

Endomorphs generally have weight problems that need to be addressed in order to live a healthy lifestyle. They tend to pack on the pounds easily, so care should be taken as to prevent obesity. Smaller, more frequent meals and eating more slowly can satisfy a voracious appetite. Meals should be eaten about five hours apart. Foods packed with fiber and proteins can make a person feel fuller. People should realize that a little fat is needed to maintain a healthy body, so do not succumb to the fat-free craze. Aerobic exercise is of prime importance to the endomorph. Thirty minutes of walking, dancing, jogging, or the like five days per week to increase heart rate is recommended. After weight is shed, weight training can be added to strengthen and tone muscles. This should be done at least two or three times per week.

Mesomorphs' genetic make-up lends itself to naturally staying fit and trim. However, care should be taken as to not taking that extra helping or skipping a trip to the gym just because one's metabolism can readily burn off calories. Weight gain could occur, especially in older people whose metabolisms have slowed down. As far as exercise is concerned, mesomorphs build muscle easily.

Ectomorphs have little body fat. An extreme ectomorph might choose to consult a doctor to be sure that there are no underlying medical problems contributing to their size, such as hyperthyroidism. More frequent meals should be eaten, maybe five or six. These should be packed with high calorie and nutrient rich foods, such as starchy vegetables, nuts, and dried fruits. Ectomorphs should perform more heavy weightlifting exercises and cut down on the aerobics in order to build more muscle mass.

All three body types have their places in society. It is up to every individual to understand the various and particular traits, needs, and problems that arise and have to be faced by these types. Acceptance of one's build is important to address good physical, mental, and psychological health. It does not matter if a person is "too fat," "too skinny," or "too muscle-headed." It takes all body types and shapes to make an interesting world.

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