In health and fitness there are lots of numbers thrown around, but what do they all mean, and what ones are actually important? February is Heart Health Month, so I wanted to focus on some numbers that can make a difference in quality and duration of life. Important numbers to know will be highlighted in BOLD.
There are several “positive” risk factors that have been linked with heart disease and can classify people as low, moderate, or high risk.
These are from the ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription – 7th Edition
For every factor you have, that is 1 point, so keep track as you read along.
1. Family History
Myocardial infarction (heart attack), coronary revascularization (heart bypass or angioplasty) or sudden death (attributed to a stroke or cardiovascular disease) before 55 years of age in men considered immediate family (father, brother, son) or before 65 in women considered immediate family (mother, sister, daughter)
Current smoking or those who quit within the previous six months
3. Hypertension – Blood Pressure
Systolic blood pressure >140mm or diastolic blood pressure >90mm, confirmed by measurements on at least two separate occasions or on antihypertensive medications
4. Dyslipidemia, hypercholesterolemia, or High Cholestrol
LDL >130 mg/dL, HDL <40mg/dL or on lipid-lowering medication
If serum cholesterol is all that is available, use serum cholesterol >200mg/dL
The HDL score has changed from 35 mg/dL to 40 mg/dL for 2006. Additionally, total cholesterol score is de-emphasized in favor of HDL and LDL scores, unless those two scores are unavailable.
5. Impaired Fasting Glucose – Blood Sugar Levels
Fasting blood sugar >100 mg/dl, confirmed on at least two separate occasions
The score has changed from 110 mg/dL to 100 mg/dL for 2006.
BMI >30 kg/m2 or
Waist girth >102 cm (40”) for men and >88 cm (35”) for women or
Waist/hip ratio >0.95 for men and >0.86 for women
Due to varying opinions, use additional valid markers of obesity to evaluate obesity
The waist-girth measurement has changed from one previous score of 100 cm (39.4”) to individual scores of 102 cm (40”) for men and 88 cm (35”) for women. Additionally, waist/hip ratio has been added for 2006.
7. Physical Inactivity
Persons not participating in a regular exercise program or not meeting the minimal recommendations of the 1996 Surgeon General’s Report
The only Negative risk factor is HDL Cholesterol – you can minus 1 if your HDL is above 60 mg/dl
1. HDL >60 mg/dL
At this point you are assessed for each factor that you may have. From there, you are scored as follows.
1. Low Risk
Younger individuals (men <45 years, women <55 years) who are asymptomatic and meet no more than one risk factor
2. Moderate Risk
Men >45 years, women >55 years or individuals who meet the threshold for two or more risk factors and are asymptomatic
3. High Risk
Individuals with one or more signs and symptoms for cardiovascular disease, individuals with known cardiovascular (including peripheral vascular disease, cerebral vascular disease), pulmonary (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, cystic fibrosis) or metabolic (renal, liver or thyroid disorder) disease.
If you place in the Moderate or High Risk categories, it is important to check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
Some other great numbers to know are as follows:
Body Fat Composition
The risk factors above went off of BMI, waist girth, and waist/hip ratio, but failed to mention Body Fat percentage. Body fat percentage is a more accurate way to measure overall composition. The most accurate methods are hydrostatic or BodPod technology. These test can be done at the University of Utah for just $25 (http://www.health.utah.edu/peak/PEAK-Services/Health-Fitness-Testing/index.html). You can also use hand held calipers and Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) tools. If you have calipers, this is a great site to calculate your measurements – http://www.linear-software.com/online.html.
If you don’t have access to calipers, you can try this estimated BF% based on measurements. http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/home-body-fat-test-2774-143.html
An average female should be between 21-31%. Anything above 32% is classified as obese. Anything below 21% is considered athletic, below 12% is dangerous. An average male should be 14-25%. Anything above 25% is considered obese, anything below is considered athletic, below 4% could be considered dangerous.
Your Basal or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR/BMR):
Your RMR is measured by calories/kilojoules and is the amount of daily energy expended while at complete rest and fasting. It is how many calories your body needs to sustain just the functioning of vital organs. Your RMR can be altered by age, body composition, menopause, exercise, diet, environment, stress, and illness. Your metabolism is controlled primarily by the hypothalamus and thyroid. While you can’t control all factors that effect your metabolism you can control a few such as diet, exercise, stress (to a point), and body composition. Weight lifting is a great way to increase your metabolism. By adding 5lbs of lean muscle mass, you can potentially increase your RMR by 200 calories a day! You need energy to move muscle, fat just hangs there for a free ride. More and more studies are showing that anaerobic exercise, like HIIT can increase metabolism as well.
There is testing available to determine your RMR, but you may need to go to a gym or doctors office to have these done (For those local, I have made arrangements at Crossroads Fitness in Ogden, Utah). If you aren’t able to find somewhere, you can use estimates from formulas based on your height, weight, age, and gender. (http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/). Once you figure your RMR (remember, it is your resting metabolic rate) you then need to factor in your activity level. If you do light activity through out the day, times your RMR by 1.35, moderate x 1.55, heavy x 1.75. Ex: My RMR is 1525 – I’m moderately active, so 1525×1.55 = 2363. I would need that many calories a day to maintain my current weight and activity level. If I wanted to lose weight, keep in mind that 1lb fat = 3500 calories. 1 lb a week weight loss would mean I would need to cut 500 calories a day. My goal would be to eat 1863 calories a day. Hope that makes sense.
These numbers are just to help you out. Just knowing is beneficial. Start out by going to your family doctor and getting a simple fasting blood test to find out your cholestrol profile and fasting glucose. Then, find your body measurements such as waist/hip ratio, BMI, waist girth, and body fat percent. From there, determine what direction your numbers need to go. If they need to come down, estimate your RMR and start counting calories. By losing just 10lbs of body fat, you can start bringing your numbers down and decrease your risk factors. If there are any other numbers you would like to know about, or something you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to contact me! I hope you are all doing well in your weight loss journey. Happy Losing!