YOUR HEALTH NUMBERS PART 2 – Activity Level, Body Fat, & Waist
In the previous blog we discussed some of your crucial health numbers in terms of your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. If you missed that blog you can catch it at: Health Numbers Part 1
In this blog, we are going to address your body fat and activity levels as a measure of your health.
Excess body fat increases your risk for a wide range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, most types of cancer, sleep apnea, Alzheimer’s, and dozens of other life-threatening conditions. There are three common ways to measure yourself in terms of your body fat in relation to your health: body fat percentage, waist circumference, and Body Mass Index.
1. Body Fat %
This is the measurement of what percentage of your body is made of up lean mass (which includes your muscles, bones and organs), and what percentage of your body is fat. Although there are many methods of determining body fat percentage, here are three mainstream ways to find your body fat percentage:
Calipers for skinfold measurements. This takes the proper tools, and some calculations of three to seven different sites of pinching your body fat. These sites are different for men and women. The advantage is that it is fairly quick and doesn’t cost too much. The disadvantage is that you have to get your fat pinched and you must find someone such as a personal trainer or health coach who has experience using calipers.
The Tanita scale is an easy option for measuring body fat percentage. What is important about using the Tanita scale is you must always: weigh at the same time each day, have you meals at the same time of day, do NOT use it directly after exercise, and you must be adequately hydrated. The advantage is that you can buy your own Tanita scale and use it like a normal scale. The disadvantage is that it is not as accurate as other methods such as calipers.
BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis) technology or DXA (Duel Energy X-ray Absorptiometry. BIA and DXA can measure your weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass, physique rating, basal metabolic rate (BMR), daily caloric intake, metabolic age, bone mass, and visceral fat.The advantage is that it is very accurate. The disadvantage is that you must pay a fee and go to a place that uses BIA or DXA
Below are the healthy, warning, and danger zones for body fat percentage.
2. Waist Circumference
Carrying fat in the abdomen and close to our vital organs is dangerous for our health. Although we cannot choose where we put on weight, fat around the middle has adverse affects on our health. Women who are pear shaped, or men who distribute their weight more evenly, do not have as many health risks as those who carry their weight around their middles. A large waist circumference is an indication of poor health and creates an increased risk for heart attacks, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.
Waist circumference measurements are to be taken from the top of the hipbone and around the belly button. Make sure the tape is not too loose and not too tight, and of course – no sucking in! Measuring your waist circumference is a quick and easy way to measure if you need to lose any fat.
The following waist measurement indicate obesity and increased health risks:
Men – 40” or more around the waist
Women – 35” or more around the waist
Men – LESS than 40” around the waist
Women – LESS than 35” around the waist
3. BMI (Body Mass Index)
BMI is a measurement of your weight in proportion to your height. This is a very general way of telling where you are at in terms of your body fat. BMI does not take into consideration extreme muscle mass or the skeletal structure of an individual. For example, a person can have a great deal of muscle mass and be considered overweight or obese by BMI standards. A person can also be “skinny fat”, having a low percentage of muscle mass and a high body fat percentage while being within the correct BMI weight range. BMI does not measure the percentage of body fat. Still, BMI can be used as a general overview for your health, particularly if you are of a normal build and musculature.
The measurement is taken by dividing your weight in kilograms into your height squared. BMI = kg/m2. You can use this calculation to find your BMI, or by simply knowing your height and weight, you can find your number using BMI charts on the internet.
A sedentary lifestyle is when a person does not receive regular amounts of physical activity on a daily basis. Being sedentary increases your risk for most cancers, it also increases your chances of developing diabetes and coronary artery disease (heart attacks and stroke), and elevates your blood pressure and cholesterol. Sitting too much can decrease your muscle mass, lower your metabolism, contribute to anxiety and depression, and cause obesity. It is amazing the difference a modest amount of movement can make on your health.
DANGER ZONE: You are considered SEDENTARY when: You have been exercising less than 90 minutes of cardio each week, for the past 3 months.
WARNING ZONE: This is when you are not considered sedentary but you are not active enough. You are exercising between 90 – 149 minutes of moderate cardio activity each week. You are exercising on at least 3 days / week, usually for 30 minutes at a time. You have been keeping up this activity level every week for at least 3 months.
HEALTH ZONE: You are exercising for 150 minutes or more of moderate cardio each week (such as 30 minutes, 5 days a week) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week; and have 1-2 sessions of weight training each week. You have been doing this consistently for 3 months or longer.
FITNESS AND WEIGHT LOSS ZONE: You are exercising between 180 - 300 minutes of moderate cardio each week; and at least 1-2 sessions of weight training each week.
Your levels of body fat and daily activity make an enormous difference in your health. Be intentional about all of your health numbers so that you can live a long and high quality life!