In the search for health we need a guide to aim for and maintain when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. We all have a weight, but how do you know it’s a healthy one? It is true that one woman at 55kg can either be underweight, healthy or overweight. The problem with weight is that we tend to compare ourselves to the people around us instead of looking at what is right for us. A quick observation around the train platform and you can see that we are all composed quite differently. From tall, short, thick, thin, lanky, floppy, or strong. It is not hard to see just from a superficial observation that we can’t really compare ourselves to the person next to us.
Healthy Weight Measures
To be deemed a healthy weight means that your risk factors for contracting diseases are not contributed by your weight. Being overweight is linked to increase risk in cardiovascular disease and diabetes and a range of other diseases. It is important to try to live a healthy life and reduce body fat so that you can reduce your risk of these diseases. Whilst you are striving to reach and maintain a healthy weight, make sure you remember that you need to factor in your body composition and shape, gender and activity levels. There are a few tools that can help you set a healthy weight goal, however they all have their limitations. So measure yourself, but also assess that you are eating a healthy diet and are exercising, incorporating resistance training so as to build up lean body composition.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a fairly well known tool to measure whether you are underweight, healthy, overweight or obese. It is is a number that is figured out by an algorithm based on your weight and height. BMI is a broad helpful guide to figure out if you are a healthy weight for your height. The higher the number, the more body fat a person has. You can figure out your BMI by inputting your weight and height into this algorithm: BMI = weight in kilograms (kg) divided by height in meters, squared (m2).
The different weight groups for adults 20 years old or older, men or woman are:
- Underweight: BMI is less than 18.5
- Normal weight: BMI is 18.5 to 24.9
- Overweight: BMI is 25 to 29.9
- Obese: BMI is 30 or more
All that the BMI will figure out is if you are generally in proportion to your height. It actually cannot reveal if you have a high body fat percentage or a healthy at all. Muscle weighs more than fat, so a bodybuilder may have the same BMI as a person with double the body fat. The same goes for people who are underweight but this has been due to muscle wasting, illness or a reduction in bone density. In these cases, the BMI might say a person is healthy, but a proper medical examination will show that that person needs medical care. BMI has to also be adjusted for children and adolescents as they have a different normal body fat composition to adults, so it is important not to confuse these numbers against an adult chart.
Another helpful tool to figuring out if you are at a healthy weight is to also get a measurement of your waist. Are you generally an apple or pear shape? Do you hold most of your body fat around your tummy, or around your bottom. The place of body fat has been directly linked to health of your organs and risk of developing ongoing heart problems or chronic diseases. If you hold most of your body fat around your tummy and your BMI still says you are at a healthy weight, you can ascertain that your weight should probably be a little lower until your abdominal body fat is burnt off. The recommended measurement for males is 94cm and for females is 80cm.
How to measure your waist:
- Find the top of your hip bone and the bottom of your ribs.
- Breathe out normally.
- Place the tape measure midway between these points and wrap it around your waist.
- Check your measurement.
These guidelines are based on World Health Organization and National Health and Medical Research Council recommendations.
Another method of measuring the health of your body and if you have too much body fat and need to reduce your weight is the waist-hip ratio. It is ascertained by dividing the measurement of your waist at its narrowest point (or an inch above the belly button if there is no narrow point) by your hips at the widest point of your bottom.
- Below 0.9 indicates a very low risk of cardiovascular problems
- From 0.9 to 0.99 suggests a moderate risk
- Above 1 implies a high risk.
- Below 0.8 means a very low risk
- From 0.8 to 0.89 indicates a moderate risk
- 0.9 or above suggests a high risk of cardiovascular problems.
For men and women, WHR has different implications for cardiovascular problems.
It is helpful to know what you are aiming for when you are on the weight-loss journey. Having goals and setting targets help you to keep motivated and keep making healthy food and lifestyle decisions. It is important that no one way of measuring healthy weight is a gold standard. Getting medical advice from your GP is the best place to start as they will be able to take into account your medical history and guide what to aim for. A really helpful tool put out by our government is the Healthy Weight Guide. You can put in your measurements and it will give you tips to encourage you and guide you along the way with healthy meal plans, plan your physical activity, monitor your what you do and make challenges, and give you access to relevant resources too.
Here at AJ’s Sports Centre we are passionate about helping you achieve and maintain a healthy weight through exercise and activity. Why not come in and join us today!
Contact us for your guided tour of our facilities, or to take up our 5-day free trial!