7 Ways (Besides Weight) to Gauge Your Health
It can be difficult to not pay attention to the scale, but weight is not the only way to gauge your health, and often, the number on the scale does not provide an accurate assessment of your overall health.
But because there is an overwhelming emphasis placed on physical figure, many think it is the only measurement that matters when it comes to your health, and, quite frankly, it is not. It is simultaneously possible for overweight people to be healthy and underweight people to be unhealthy, but this is not something weight or a scale could tell you.
Instead of hopping on the scale, here are seven other aspects you can take a look into to calculate your health.
1. Body composition
Body composition, and waist circumference, especially, is one of the most important factors determining whether or not you are healthy. A person’s waist-to-hip ratio is supposed to be below 0.95, to be out of the “at-risk” category. By measuring a person’s waist circumference, doctors can assess the risk of serious health conditions like stroke, sleep apnea, and heart disease. This measurement is far more telling than weight is, as waist circumference is an indicator of visceral fat, or fat that surrounds the internal organs.
2. Blood pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a very serious condition that could lead to a slew of life-threatening complications, such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer” because it often does not have obvious symptoms.
People over 20 with normal blood pressure should get it checked every one to two years.
3. Vegetables eaten
Compare the number of fruit and vegetable servings you eat a day to the number of servings of processed foods and high-glycemic foods. High-glycemic foods are foods that your body converts quickly into glucose, which impacts your blood sugar. Research suggests that those consuming high-glycemic diets may increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
As a general rule, the more fruit and vegetable servings you eat per day the better for your overall health and wellness. Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal.
4. Cholesterol levels
High cholesterol does not have any symptoms, the only way to detect you have it is a blood test. While it can be inherited, most cases of high cholesterol are the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices. Having high cholesterol can put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke.
By the time you are 20, you should be getting your cholesterol levels checked every five years.
5. Blood sugar levels
The only way you can test for diabetes is by taking the fasting plasma glucose test (FPG). The FPG measures the amount of glucose in your blood after an eight hour fast.
Typically, when you eat, your blood sugar rises. Then, your cells take that sugar out of the bloodstream and convert it to energy, but only with the assistance of insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas. In diabetes, the body either does not make enough insulin or does not use it effectively, leaving too much sugar in the blood. Over time, too much sugar in the blood can damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, or heart.
Those with normal glucose levels should get tested about every three years. Those with diabetes risk factors may need to be tested more often.
6. Time spent exercising
Physical activity is crucial to maintaining good health, mental and physical. The type of activity does not matter if you are raising your heart rate, whether you prefer HIIT training, group classes, or getting your steps in on the treadmill. While many are focused on hitting 10,000 steps a day, professionals recommend taking the number of steps it takes to break a sweat.
Research has found that exercising at least 30 minutes per day reduces the risk of early death.
7. You can physically accomplish the things that are important to you
If your health is at the point that you cannot physically accomplish what you want to, whether that is walking up the stairs without getting winded, playing with your children, or even completing your first 5K, you should focus on improving. Make goals for yourself that involve various physical activities that you would like to do, this will get you on track to becoming a healthier, happier version of yourself.