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Fitness by the Numbers

A guide to the numbers you need to know to stay healthy. Are you in the healthy range?

You've had the tests your doctor recommended. Good work! But just what do all those readings mean? Here is a guide to some of the important numbers you should be aware of in helping you maintain a healthy body.

Body Mass Index (BMI)
Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of your weight in relation to your height. This is a gauge of your percentage of body fat. If you have a high BMI, you have a higher risk for heart disease and other obesity-related problems.

A healthy BMI is 18.5-24.9; unhealthy BMI is 25-30; and obese is 30 and higher.

To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in feet and inches squared.

Glucose
Glucose (blood sugar) is a form of sugar and is your body's main source of energy. Knowing your glucose level is important because if is outside the normal range, it can indicate serious health conditions, in particular diabetes.

A normal fasting (not having eaten for at least 8 hours) glucose level is 70 mg/dL-99 mg/dL; prediabetes is 100 mg/dL-125 mg/dL; and diabetes is 125 mg/dL and above.

Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that is found in the bloodstream and in the membranes of the cells of your body.You need a certain amount of cholesterol for your body to function properly. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, however, so any cholesterol you get from food is unnecessary and can also be a potential risk to your health, especially to your heart.

Your total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dL. Your LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) should be less than 160 mg/dL if you are at low risk for heart disease; less than 130 mg/ dL if you are at intermediate risk; less than 100 mg/dL if you are at high risk for heart disease, or already have heart disease or diabetes; and less than 70 mg/dL if you are at very high risk for heart disease. (Risk factors include smoking, existing heart disease, diabetes, family history, high blood pressure, age, gender, and diet.) Your HDL (or "good" cholesterol) should be 40 mg/dL or higher, and your triglyceride level should be less than 150 mg/dL.

Blood Pressure
Blood pressure readings include systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart beats while pumping blood. Diastolic blood pressure is the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats. Blood pressure numbers are usually written with the systolic number above or before the diastolic, such as 120/80 mmHg. Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80; prehypertension is 120-139/80-89; high blood pressure, stage 1, is 140-159/90-99, and stage 2 is 160 or higher/100 or higher.

Not sure which medical exams you need? Click here to find out.

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