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Anthropometry in physical performance and health.

Stewart, Arthur; Ackland, Tim


Arthur Stewart

Tim Ackland


Henry C. Lukaski


Anthropometry is defined as 'the scientific procedures and processes of acquiring surface anatomical dimensional measurements such as lengths, breadths, girths and skinfolds of the human body by means of specialist equipment' (Stewart 2010). This approach has altered little if at all over the last hundred years, and even in ancient Greece, we hear of systematic body measurement in order to produce statues that were appropriately sized to real individuals. Sculptors would have appreciated that this approach demands painstaking detail, adherence to best practice, and diligence in reducing errors, and few scientists would argue with this. Anthropometry sits within the field of kinanthropometry — 'the academic discipline which involves the use of anthropometric measures in relation to other scientific parameters and/or thematic areas such as human movement, physiology or applied health sciences' (Stewart 2010). However, one of the issues for kinanthropometry, particularly in its applications for physical activity and sport, is that the tools have not advanced in parallel with those of other disciplines such as sports physiology and biomechanics. Researchers, therefore, may be persuaded to think that its relevance is reducing in a contemporary research context. Indeed, for publications in two main research journals, the prevalence of anthropometry as central to research (estimated from key word searches using similar terms) appears to have peaked a generation ago (Olds 2004). But perhaps kinanthropometry is on the verge of a renaissance for two reasons. First, the field has now largely embraced tightly defined standard procedures and error control, the lack of which previously diminished its ability to convince a research community becoming accustomed to more sophisticated methods. Second, recent advances in digital anthropometry, using three-dimensional (3D) body scanning, enable an unprecedented range of new measurement possibilities. These new measures can augment traditional anthropometry, and the combination of manual and digital anthropometry may allow new research questions to be addressed.


STEWART, A. and ACKLAND, T. 2018. Anthropometry in physical performance and health. In Lukaski, H.C. (ed.) Body composition: health and performance in exercise and sport. Boca Raton: CRC Press, chapter 6, pages 89-108. Available from:

Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2017
Publication Date Jul 20, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 20, 2019
Publicly Available Date Jun 20, 2019
Publisher CRC Press
Pages 89-108
Book Title Body composition: health and performance in exercise and sport
Chapter Number Chapter 6
ISBN 9781498731676
Keywords Human body; Anthropometry; Physical activity; Sport physiology; Biomechanics; 3D body scanning
Public URL


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