Are you healthy? How do you know? What do you use to evaluate your level of health? In today’s culture, we have become health-obsessed. What IS healthy anyway?!
Size and shape, along with many other health indicators will vary from person to person depending on a thousand factors (age, family history, genetics, gender, etc). Health is certainly not one-size-fits-all. But, we can still utilize some tools to get a snap shot of your current health. Here are some basic health numbers that you should know. These numbers, all together, can give you a good idea of your overall health.
- Blood Pressure: Your blood pressure should be less than 130/80, but ideally it would be around 115/75. High blood pressure puts you at risk for many complications including heart disease. The good news is that by being proactive, many people can avoid medication through diet and exercise. Make sure you know your current blood pressure and talk to your doctor about what is healthy for you.
- Cholesterol: This is tricky. There is ‘good’ cholesterol and ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides. It is hard for a non-medically trained individual to keep track. That’s why we have doctors. Make sure this is being checked yearly (or more often if you are in the high risk zone). Basically though, you want your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol below 100 mg/dL and your HDL (“good”) cholesterol above 50 mg/dL.
- BMI: This is your Body Mass Index and it is a measure of your body fat based on your height vs. your weight. To calculate your BMI you can click here or Google “BMI calculator”. A BMI of 25-29.9 is considered over-weight, and BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. You want your BMI to fall into the 18.5-24.9 range. There are, of course, many more factors than height vs. weight to determine what is right for you, but this can be a good start.
- Waist circumference: Lately this measurement has been gaining popularity in the medical community. We have learned that more important than your weight is the distribution of your weight. If you carry your weight around your middle, you are at a higher risk than if you carry your weight in other areas. You want to measure your waist at its narrowest part. If you don’t have a noticeable narrowing or waist, you can measure across where your elbows fall with arms at your side. Your risk increases for many health conditions with a circumference of 40+ for men and 35+ for women. But perhaps the best way to calculate this is to compare your waist to your height. Your waist should be less than half your height. For example, I am 5’6” which is 65 inches. Half of 65 is 32.5. Therefore, my waist should be less than 32.5 inches at its narrowest point.
- Hours of sleep: Are you surprised to see this on my list? This is one indicator of good health that is too often ignored. Most people require 7-9 hours of consecutive sleep for optimal health. When we sleep, we heal, recover, and grow. People who get enough sleep have more energy, stronger immune systems, less pain, and weigh less than people that do not get enough sleep. Don’t brush off the importance of sleep. Watch less TV, leave the laundry for the weekend, and put the computer away (after you read my blog of course). If you are having trouble sleeping, ask your MD for suggestions.
- 1-10 Scale: Last, and certainly not least, is your personal score. How would you rank your health on a scale of 1-10? 10 would be ‘never been better, full of energy, bounce out of bed in the morning, happy/content’ and 1 would be ‘every day is a struggle, always sick, no energy, overweight, depressed, etc.’ If you were truly honest with yourself, what would your number be? Anything less than 8 should be unacceptable for you! This your one chance at life, so let’s enjoy every minute of it. I feel like Jerry McGuire – who’s coming with me???
If you are not where you want to be, don’t worry. This is not meant to make you feel bad; it is meant to empower you to take control of your health. Get a physical, get some good sleep, and get moving! Let’s all live the rest of 2013 in way that leaves no need to make resolutions in 2014.