How healthy are you? Whether you rely on your doctor to measure them for you, use an app, or get your results at work, you might have quite a collection of measurements of your health. But what do these health metrics mean?
Here are a few of the most commonly tracked health metrics.
More than 37% of Arkansans are obese, and we’ve learned that obesity can lead to negative health outcomes. People who are seriously overweight are more likely to get a severe case of COVID-19, more likely to have heart disease, and more likely to deal with joint pain. Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases and conditions.
But weight can be an emotional subject for many people and weighing in may be stressful. Still, your weight is useful information for tracking your health. Make sure you check your weight under the same conditions every time. For example, you should wear the same thing (or nothing) every time you weigh yourself. Take the measurement at the same time of day and be consistent about whether you eat first. Put the scale on a hard surface, not carpeting.
Weigh yourself once a week, and use a BMI calculator to check your Body Mass Index. Or try a body mass scale. When you step on this type of scale barefoot, it sends a harmless electrical pulse through your body to measure your BMI.
Studies say that half of obese patients don’t discuss their weight with their doctors, and your physician may not bring it up. But your doctor can help you lose weight. Losing even 5 to 10 percent of your weight can make a difference in your health. Ask your doctor when you’re ready to discuss your weight.
Your doctor probably always checks your blood pressure when you visit, and you can find blood pressure monitors at pharmacies or grocery stores. A home blood pressure monitor may cost $20 to $30, and will allow you to check your blood pressure regularly. Home blood pressure monitors will often store your results.
What is a good blood pressure reading? Your reading will consist of two numbers: a systolic and a diastolic number. Generally speaking, the systolic reading should be below 120 and the diastolic should be below 80. If your readings are higher, be sure to talk with your physician.
When you take your blood pressure, be sure to wait 30 minutes after drinking a caffeinated drink 0r smoking a cigarette. Put your feet flat on the floor and rest your arm on a table.
Resting heart rate
Your resting heart rate is the number of beats per minute when you are at rest, not exercising. Take your RHR by counting your pulse for 30 seconds and doubling it. If you use a Fitbit or Apple Watch or a similar device, it might count your heart rate for you.
What’s a good resting heart rate? In general, 60 to 100 beats per minute is normal. A serious athlete might have a slower rate. A 16-year study in the journal Heart found that a heart rate between 81 and 90 doubled the chances of death and a rate over 90 tripled it. If you exercise regularly and become more fit, your resting heart rate might become lower.
Regular exercise is the most important way to lower your resting heart rate. Manage stress, maintain a healthy weight, and stay hydrated to work toward this goal.
Tracking a few simple health metrics can help you and your physician work toward improving your health. Share your results at your next appointment.