Body weight and the BMI have been used by physicians to determine health for a long time. It’s true that higher weights are associated with some poor health outcomes, and lower weights make you less likely to experience some common health issues, like high blood pressure or blood sugar. For example, one study showed that having bariatric surgery can reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 78 percent. This was above and beyond lifestyle changes.
However, having surgery is a huge decision, as any kind of procedure has its risks. Not to mention, the very nature of weight and the BMI to accurately determine someone’s health has been called into question. Many more studies are showing that there are other health indicators that are more reliable than your body weight when it comes to determining your health and life expectancy.
It’s true that body size can be associated with poor health outcomes, but your weight isn’t the only way to measure your body size. Many healthcare professionals are more interested in whether you have visceral fat around your waist than how much you weigh.
Even if a woman technically has a normal weight, if her waist measures over 35 inches, she is three times more at risk of dying from heart disease. Instead of obsessing about the number on the scale, measure the smallest part of your waist to see how you measure up.
Amount of Vegetables Eaten
Everyone knows the importance of eating fruit and vegetables, and yet, many of us spend more of our time eating heavily processed food because it’s more convenient. Regardless of your size, if you don’t eat very many vegetables on a daily basis, you’re more at risk of experiencing negative health outcomes, even if you’re considered skinny by society’s standards.
How do you know if you’re eating enough vegetables?
- You eat a variety of produce in different colors
- You eat more non-starchy vegetables than starchy vegetables
- Half of your plate contains vegetables at every meal
How Much Time You Spend Sleeping
Our society often glorifies how little sleep we get in the name of being productive. Although it may not seem like a big deal to skip an hour here and a few hours there, the truth is, how much sleep you get can predict your future health.
Not getting enough sleep every night can cause mood changes and memory issues, but a lack of sleep can also have a real effect on your physical health. It can raise your blood pressure, make you more at risk of type 2 diabetes, and it can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that more sleep is better. If you regularly sleep nine hours or more each night, you could be putting yourself at some of the same health risks than if you sleep too little.
Most people need between seven and nine hours a night, but you will need less as you age. Getting the right amount of sleep every night is something you can do no matter how much you weigh.
How Fast You Walk
It should come as no surprise that getting physical exercise is predictive of your health, regardless of your weight. Especially when you consider the fact that someone like Dwayne Johnson is technically considered obese, yet he’s stronger and healthier than the average person.
But, what kind of exercise and how much affects your health? One easy way to determine your health is to consider how fast you walk. Among those 65 years or older, those who could walk a mile in 33 minutes were more likely to reach their average life expectancy. If you can walk even faster, your chances of dying in the next 10 years falls by 12 percent.
Walking is a great form of exercise, and when you can do it frequently and walk fast, you’re more likely to be healthy.
Grip strength is another good indicator of health among older people, but it’s a good predictor among younger people too. A grip strength study among 18-year-olds was able to predict cardiovascular death 25 years after the study was complete.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping your eye on your weight and wanting to lose a few pounds, but don’t let it rule your life. There are many other predictors of health that are just as, if not more, reliable, and they are more easily achievable for most of us than simply losing weight.