This is the third in a series of articles about the five habits you need to practice in order to live longer and live better. In addition to not smoking, there are four other habits that you can read about on our website.
As we noted in our article on eating a healthy diet, there are many paths that lead to that important standard of healthy living. The same is true for exercise. Adopting those healthy habits will ideally lead to a healthy weight, which the American Heart Association defines as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5-24.9.
There is a very good reason for the AHA putting so much weight on the numbers we see on the scale. Being overweight puts us at risk for chronic disease including type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, strokes, fatty liver disease, and certain types of cancer.
More Than BMI
Admittedly, BMI is an imperfect measure. Because it is a calculation of the relationship between your height and weight, those with high muscle mass will see artificially inflated BMI. It’s important to use other tools as well to determine if your body size is putting you at increased risk for disease which include waist circumference, hip-to-waist ratio, and waist-to-height ratio.
Some other numbers to consider that can affect your risk for chronic disease which will require an order for blood work from your doctor, are blood pressure (>120/80); LDL (>100); HDL (<50 for women, <40 for men); triglycerides (>150); blood sugar (>100).
Look beyond the scale to live longer and live better
No health professional would argue that being very thin is the ultimate measure of health. For example, it is possible to have a low BMI and a small waist circumference, but at the same time have elevated high blood pressure, triglycerides or LDL and little muscle mass. That’s why it is best to have an annual physical to evaluate. Without annual blood work, your risk factors for deadly diseases may be hidden by an outward appearance of health.
While the scale doesn’t tell the whole story and shouldn’t be the sole focus on your health goals, it is important to not let our weight get in the way of our mission to live longer and live better.