What makes a person healthy can be subjective to some people. One group might measure it via the level of physical activity; another can base it solely on what they eat; while there are also people that rely on what their bodies look like.
There are several ways to measure health via numbers and statistics, such as weight, body mass index (BMI), and body composition. Bodystat pitted body composition and BMI against each other in a previous post, thoroughly explaining that body composition describes what the body is made of, versus BMI which merely calculates the normal weight range for a certain height. Even so, body composition is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to defining your health, and here’s why:
1. Heart health is not accounted for
Being aware of your resting heart rate (RHR) is essential in knowing the status of your health. Harvard Health states that low RHR generally points to good cardiovascular health, putting you at less risk of various heart-related diseases. Contrary to what many people perceive, a person with a fairly high percentage of body fat does not always have high RHR, and vice-versa. In fact, there are overweight individuals who have normal heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels. Of course, it does not mean that having high body fat is not a cause for concern.
Similar to RHR, knowing your target heart rate (THR) while working out will put into perspective how much more you can push yourself and when you should hold back. THR should be around 50-85% of a person’s maximum heart rate depending on the level of physical activity.
Knowing the state of your heart, the most important muscle in the body, is an important factor in assessing overall health.
2. Differing levels of physical activity
People engage in different kinds of sports, which strengthen different parts of the body. To illustrate, a tennis player would not have the same body as a footballer – and that’s normal. It does not necessarily mean one is healthier than the other.
Different athletes workout and eat based on the sport they play and kind of stamina they need to perform at their best. Add that to the fact that every person’s body is made up differently, with some having larger bone structure while others have a smaller frame. Coral’s list of most iconic British women athletes of all time shows that body composition is not the only contributing factor in the success it has brought to athletes in their various playing fields. It does not affect athletic performance and can’t really indicate that a certain player is more well-rounded than all others in another sport. Don’t let stats and figures discourage you from pursuing a dream in an athletic field.
3. Number of hours asleep
Even if you’re packed with lean muscle from exercising and receive lots of nutrients from eating healthy, not getting proper sleep is still a major cause for alarm. The Guardian reported that length of sleep affects a person’s life span significantly.
Teenagers need about 8-10 hours of sleep a night, while adults aged 18 and above need about 7-9 hours to maintain optimal health. Sleep deprivation is a leading cause of many diseases today, such as cancer and heart conditions. Tracking sleeping habits is of utmost importance, too.
4. Environment and stress levels.
Certain environmental factors such as constant exposure to stress is also bad for health. It’s not something that regularly hitting the gym and gaining muscle will totally diminish. Exercise is a great way to manage stress levels, but its side effects can potentially lead to other health setbacks, like unwanted cravings, recurring headaches, and low memory retention.
Health Magazine also points to stress as a catalyst for more life-threatening diseases like strokes due to rising blood pressure. Remember, how you feel inside is just as important as what you look like in the mirror!
5. Cholesterol levels matter, too
Lastly, checking cholesterol levels regularly helps in ruling out various health risks. Medical News Today released a chart that determines cholesterol levels by age, which is a helpful tool in keeping your HDL and LDL levels in check.
Typically, eating fruit, vegetables, whole food, and fish help in managing cholesterol levels. A balanced diet assists in better weight management as well.
Overall, there are many factors when it comes to measuring one’s health. It’s not advisable to only rely on one method, but rather a more holistic approach to see the bigger picture. Besides knowing your body composition, consider other measures to get a better overview of your health. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to take action and evade serious health risks.
Article submitted to bodystat.com
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