How Fitness And Weight Loss Are Related To Overall Health
We know that weight and fitness are both strongly related to good health. This is something that is highlighted again and again by health professionals, educational programs, and more. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that millions of Americans could benefit from increasing their level of fitness. It seems they aren’t wrong when you consider that some 60 million people in this country are overweight, 50 million have high blood pressure, 13.5 million suffer from some form of heart disease, and 8 million are in the early stages of type 2 diabetes.
Fitness and diet aren’t just important to make sure you stay healthy. It is also important for those who are already unhealthy, as it can help them heal their body. Yet, some 60% of adults in this country do not exercise enough. In fact, 25% don’t exercise at all. This is everybody’s problem, because complacency is placing a huge strain on society’s resources. Did you know, for instance, that the cost on medical bills for obese people in this country is around $147 billion per year? Considering that rates also continue to rise, and that it is believed that 43% of people will be obese by 2025, these expenses will continue to be a huge financial burden. In fact, it is estimated that they will stand at $344 billion per year by 2018, or 21% of all spending on health care in this country.
Something clearly needs to be done. One element of that is to return to the basics: understanding what good health is, what fitness is, what an ideal weight is, and how those are related. Let’s take a look.
What Is Good Health?
Good health is about more than not having a disease. It is a holistic state that involves your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Achieving good health is also not something someone else can do for you, but rather something you must actively participate in. Most people only consider health to be related to physical well being, which is the absence of discomfort and disease. Mental well-being is equally important, however, and is about people being happy with themselves. In addition, spiritual well-being is often overlooked, but is no less important. It is about feeling at peace, and feeling like you belong somewhere.
You have certain responsibilities when it comes to achieving and/or maintaining good health. These include eating a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet; getting and staying active; ensuring your weight is right for you as an individual; thinking about what you put into your body; getting enough sleep; avoiding stress; spending time with people who matter to you; nurturing your spirit; being registered with a physician; and looking after any chronic illnesses that you have.
Not everybody needs to lose weight, but around 60% of us do. This also means that you need to know what your ideal weight. While most people focus on the body mass index (BMI) for this, which is a general calculation that applies to anyone, the reality is that the ideal weight is somewhat more complex. In fact, you need to think about your age, your gender, your muscle to fat ratio, your bone density, and your height.
The BMI is certainly a very good guideline in terms of calculating how much you should weigh. It has significant flaws, however, and a recent study has literally changed the way we look at things. This study suggested that those who were classed as overweight according to the BMI range actually had a lower mortality rate than people who were classed as being of normal weight under the BMI range.
The BMI calculates the ratio between your height and your weight. It is generally agreed that an 18.5 or lower BMI means someone is underweight. Anything between 18.5 and 25 is considered ideal. If a BMI reaches between 25 and 30, the person is classed as overweight. A BMI over 30 is considered obese. Additional factors such as morbidly obese have now been added to this. Other countries state that anyone who has a BMI under 20 is considered underweight.
Another method for calculating ideal weight is the waist-hip ratio, or WHR. The WHR is popular because it recognizes the differences between the genders. For women, if the ratio is below 0.8, they have a low risk of heart problems. Between 0.8 and 0.89, their risk is moderate. Anything above 0.9 is classed as high risk. For men, the low risk is for a ratio below 0.9. Between 0.9 and 0.99 is classed as moderate risk. High risk of heart disease exists at 1 or higher. One of the important issues with the WHR is that it is also linked to fertility in women. Women with a lower WHR tend to be more fertile. They are also more likely to avoid cardiovascular disease, most forms of cancer, and diabetes. The same applies to men. Frighteningly, it is believed that if the BMI were replaced with the WHR, the statistics on how many people are overweight in this country would be significantly higher.
Waist to Height Ratio
The next option is the waist to height ratio. A 2012 study found that this measurement was better able to predict the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease than the BMI. According to this study, if you have a waist circumference that is at less than half of your height, then life expectancy can be greatly increased. One of the reasons why this method is better than the BMI is because the latter does not look at how fat is distributed on the body. It is visceral fat, along the abdomen, that is particularly dangerous for organ damage, so this is something in which the BMI is significantly lacking.
Body Fat Percentage
The next method is that of body fat percentage. This provides measurements on both storage fat and essential fat. Essential fat is the good fat, which is required for our overall survival. Women should have 10% to 13% of essential fat, whereas men should only have around 2% to 5%. Storage fat, by contrast, is usually the bad fat. There is some point to it, as it does protect the organs in our abdomen and chest, but this is the type of fat that people should try to get rid of. According to this type of measurement, you can be classed as an athlete, non-athlete who is otherwise fit, acceptable, overweight, or obese.
It is quite widely agreed that calculating body fat percentage is the most accurate method of measuring someone’s health. This is because it is not possible for a couch potato and a world athlete to have the same results, as they can with the BMI. However, calculating body fat percentage has to be done by a medical professional in order for it to be truly accurate. As a result, it is not widely used, in part also due to cost considerations.
What Is Fitness?
Besides maintaining an appropriate weight, we also have to make sure we maintain adequate levels of fitness in order to get and remain healthy. But what is fitness, and what does it mean to be physically fit? It is a term that is used in many conversations, but few actually think about its real meaning. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, being physically fit means having attributes that enable you to perform a certain physical activity. This is quite a vague description and doesn’t help many people. Fitness is more than being able to run for miles, or being able to deadlift in the gym. It is more than simply being able to list a number of activities. Rather, there are five elements to physical fitness. These are flexibility, body composition, muscular endurance, muscular strength, and cardiorespiratory fitness.
How Are Fitness and Health Related?
We need to be empowered to understand that we are in control of our personal health, weight, and well being. Fitness and weight are inextricably linked to overall health, and these are things that you can take control of. Fitness and wellness, however, are not one and the same thing. You can achieve tremendous wellness without being physically fit, although this does require a lot of work. Rather, you need to see it as a holistic continuum. If you strive for weight loss to reach an acceptable weight, you will instantly be healthier. If you increase your fitness, you will also instantly be healthier. Combine these two, and add in health eating, and you will truly be able to achieve optimum health.
Everybody gets sick every once in a while. However, if you ensure your weight is on target, you eat well, and you exercise plenty, these instances should be few and far between. As stated earlier, you do have to be registered with a physician in case something is wrong, but if you have your health and fitness in check, you will find that the need for a doctor will be rare.
Please feel free to visit our resources page if you could use some direction on how to start the journey to becoming the vibrant and healthy.
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