February 10, 2014
What is Body Mass Index (BMI)?
Body mass index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s height and weight. Healthcare providers and fitness professionals commonly use BMI as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems. According to the BMI weight status categories, anyone with a BMI over 25.0 is overweight and anyone with a BMI over 30.0 is obese.
It is important to understand that BMI is not a direct measure of body fat and that the calculation of BMI uses an individual’s weight, which includes both muscle and fat. As a result, some individuals may have a high BMI but not have a high percentage of body fat. For example, highly trained athletes may have a high BMI because of increased muscle mass rather than having a high BMI due to excess body fat. Although some people with a BMI in the overweight range (from 25.0 to 29.9) may not have excess body fat, most people with a BMI in the obese range (equal to or greater than 30.0) do have excess body fat and need to work to improve their overall body composition. If you have a high BMI and you have chronic disease risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at a much greater risk of developing a chronic disease than someone who has a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9.
Calculating BMI is an easy method for population assessment of obesity. Because the calculation requires only height and weight, it is inexpensive and easy for clinicians and for the general public to use. The use of BMI allows people to compare their own weight status to the general population.
Is It Important to Know Your BMI?
Yes, but it should be used in conjunction with other Health Metrics such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and lifestyle activities to determine a person’s health status. BMI is a screening tool to identify possible weight problems in adults. BMI is not a diagnostic tool. For example, a person may have a high BMI, but to determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider would need to perform additional assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings.
There have been discussions recently regarding the use of BMI to assess a person’s health. As mentioned, the measure is quite useful across large populations and it is simple to measure in a variety of settings. Bottom line? When your BMI is calculated, discuss the results with a healthcare provider or fitness professional. Ask how the number impacts you personally as an individual in conjunction with other aspects of your health status.
How can you control your Body Mass Index and improve your value?
Want to lower a high BMI? Eat a healthy diet, limit fast food intake, cut back on sugars and sweets, and eat more fruits and vegetables. Mediterranean-style diets may be effective. Eating a Mediterranean-style diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and that is low in saturated fat but has a moderate amount of unsaturated fat is beneficial. And, be careful of diet sodas!
Exercise / Physical Activity
Exercise is lifestyle medicine and doesn’t cost anything other than the time it takes to add the routine to your day. The American Heart Association recommends that a person gets at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both each week. The goal is to achieve at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. If a person cannot set aside that much time at once, shorter bursts of activity count too. Breaking up the workout into three 10-minute sessions of aerobic exercise will provide the same benefit as one 30-minute session. So, move more and sit less. Good advice for everyone!
How the LifeSpan Fitness Club Can Help
The LifeSpan Fitness Club lets you track and monitor your exercise/physical activity and health metrics. Activity can be uploaded to your account with an interactive LifeSpan product via a USB, Bluetooth-enabled equipment or through manual entry.
Based on the LifeSpan Fitness Club’s calculation of you BMI, a calculation determined by your most up-to-date entered weight, you can visually see how a change in activity or diet affects your BMI. Helping you make sense of your values, Your account will also let you know if your BMI, or any other health metric value, is considered to fall within the normal, caution or high-risk range.
Remember, BMI is not an indicator of body composition, i.e., fat and muscle. However, if you have a high BMI and have chronic disease risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you are at a much greater risk of developing a chronic disease than someone that has a normal BMI of 18.5 to 24.9. Because excess weight has numerous consequences for the heart and body, it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight based on current guidelines. Regular exercise, sitting less and moving more, and a balanced diet are the most effective ways to lose weight and prevent weight gain.