woman checking blood pressure

Know your health numbers

Your Body Mass Index (BMI) is an important health number. It’s used to determine if you’re a healthy weight for your height. That’s important because if you’re higher (or lower) than the acceptable BMI, you could face some health risks.

Your blood pressure is another important health number. It naturally fluctuates depending on what you are doing: if you’re resting it should be low; and if you’re climbing a steep hill it will rise. But blood pressure that’s high over a long period is a health risk factor too.

What are the health risks?
A higher BMI than the acceptable range for your height could put you at risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers don’t know exactly what causes type 2 diabetes, but they do know it is associated with genetic risk factors as well as lifestyle risk factors (such as being overweight).

Type 2 diabetes is also associated with chronic heart disease. In fact, Type 2 diabetes can sometimes be discovered for the first time after a heart attack. That’s a pretty awful double whammy.

While there is the family history factor in type 2 diabetes, the risk increases enormously in people who:

  • have high blood pressure
  • are overweight or obese
  • are not physically active
  • have a poor diet.

If you have a low BMI (less than 18.5) you’re deemed to be under-weight. This could be the result of insufficient calorie intake, or an underlying medical condition. So you should aim for a BMI that’s in the healthy range for your height.

High blood pressure (or hypertension) is a major health condition and can lead to a heart attack or stroke. It can also affect your kidneys. It’s a good idea to get your blood pressure checked regularly by your GP.

How do I get my health numbers right?
The Heart Foundation advises the best way to hit the BMI sweet spot is to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and to exercise regularly. For optimal health, it’s recommended adults are active on most, if not all days of the week. We should aim to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week (that’s between 21 – 42 minutes per day), or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity (10 – 21 minutes per day), or an equivalent combination of both.

The risk of heart disease is also influenced by the amount of physical activity you do, the amount of fatty and salty food in your diet, your weight and alcohol intake.

With so much riding on your BMI and blood pressure, it’s important to get them checked and understand what you might need to change in your lifestyle. The health risks are significant. You can find out your BMI with this quick Health Check. Know your health numbers and keep them in good shape.

Category: Health

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Article by: Defence Health