In a bid to attain optimum health, it is very important for you to understand a very commonly used acronym — BMI. When you have a fitness expert scream his lungs out on how important it is to know your BMI, all you can do is wonder what he/she is talking about. For a layman to understand BMI or Body Mass Index, it is a tool that helps you calculate the amount of fat stored in your body based on your height and weight. This BMI does not need any rocket science and can simply be measured by you.
The formula to measure the BMI is as follows
Weight in pounds x 703 divided by height in inches x height in inches
For example if you weigh 130 pounds and stand 63 inches tall then the formula would read as follows
130 x 703 / 63 x 63 ( 91,390 / 3,969) i.e 23
So in this case, the person’s BMI is 23
Understanding your BMI
After you have calculated your BMI, it is essential to understand where your health status stands. If your BMI is below 18.5 then you come under the underweight category. You would need to seriously consider increasing your BMI to ensure no health hazards occur later on in life. In case your calculated BMI falls between 18.5 and 24.9 then you are considered to be maintaining a normal weight. You would need to continue your eating habits and exercise regime to ensure that you maintain this BMI. If your BMI falls between 25.0 and 29.9 then you are considered to be overweight. At such a situation incorporating a healthy lifestyle along with a strict exercise regime is a must to ensure you bring your weight within the normal range. In case your BMI is above 30 then you are considered to be obese. Obesity is a disease which leads to several other health complications and it is absolutely necessary for you to make changes immediately. A strict diet and exercise plan needs to be followed over a prolonged period of time to ensure you get back to the normal range.
According to research, people from the United States and Europe have a tendency to be on the higher BMI scale, especially, this trend has been observed in the last two decades or so. People have been leading sedentary lives with minimal or no physical activity. The reason behind this is the ever increasing trend of reliance on processed food which are high in calories and fat content. The end result is a definite increase in weight thereby resulting in a high BMI. The present day’s hectic lifestyle has also led to a lot of depression and low self-esteem, which adds to an increase in weight.
Limitations of BMI
However, ascertaining only BMI is not sufficient to call yourself fully fit. The BMI scores need to be matched with other factors like your waist circumference, blood glucose, bad cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations. If you visit a general physician, you will be able to evaluate your overall health status.
The limitation of BMI is that it can confuse a person’s muscle mass as fat. For example an athlete may be overweight as compared to his height but the excess weight could be that of muscle and not fat. In such a scenario it is essential to calculate your overall body fat percentage. To ensure that you are leading a healthy lifestyle focusing on body fat percentage is also equally important. If you are overweight then you need to reduce fat more than anything else.
For a man, the essential fat percentage is between 3 and 5 percent while for a woman it is between 8 and 12 percent. Fat is accumulated in the adipose tissue, which essentially protects internal organs in the abdomen and chest. Ignoring this factor can lead to several heart related issues, which can prove lethal for your very existence.
Some people regard this measurement of body fat percentage as the ideal way to ascertain a person’s fitness level. The BMI will not be an accurate indicator of this body fat percentage and it needs to be separately calculated. There are several calculators available over the internet and you can easily use the same to find out your actual body fat percentage.
To conclude, BMI can be used to ascertain an overall health status. However, it needs to be calculated intelligently and care needs to be taken if the BMI is pipping towards the higher side. The last thing you would want is to fall prey to acute diseases only because you had more fat in your body, which could and can be knocked off with dedication.
If you follow an ideal diet which includes whole and complex carbohydrates, proteins, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds etc. along with a strict workout regime, then you will be able to achieve optimum health. However, this effort needs to be made into a lifestyle change and not just for temporary sake. Because the general tendency of the body is go back to its old state if you give up in the middle. Once you ascertain your BMI and body fat percentage, and you think you are in the danger zone, then it is advised to consult your doctor immediately and get a drip over your overall health. There are no shortcuts to attaining a perfect health report card and hard work and perseverance is a must to ensure that you don’t put your own health at risk.