We all need little reminders that our hearts must be healthy in order to keep us going.  Every day stress, at work or home, can add to health problems.  If we keep in mind the numbers everyone should know, such as goals for heart health, hopefully, we can continue working and being productive.  After retirement, we also want to be healthy enough to enjoy other activities, or part-time work. 

It is important that you know your numbers, and these are important ones:

  •          120/80 or under is normal blood pressure for adults.
  •          Less than 200 mg/dl is a desirable cholesterol level.
  •         Less than 100 mg/dl is an optimal level of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.
  •         More than 40 mg/dl is a desirable level of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol for men; women’s should be at least 50.
  •         Less than 150 mg/dl is a desirable level of triglycerides.  This blood fat, like LDL, can make your arteries harden or narrow.
  •         Between 18.5 and 24.9 is a normal body mass index (BMI).  A higher BMI can increase your risk for heart disease.
  •         Less than 35 inches for women, and less than 40 inches for men, is the best waist size.  Too much fat around the waist increases heart disease risk.      To  measure your waist, put a tape measure around your midsection, just above your hips, and breathe out.
  •          Zero is your ideal exposure to tobacco, including secondhand smoke.
  •          At least 30 minutes most days is how much to exercise.  Regular exercise can lower your resting heart rate.  According to a recent study in American Heart Journal, a resting heart rate higher than 90 doubled the risk for heart disease.

If you don’t know how much your body mass index is, here are some explanations on how to figure it.  First, you can use a free body mass calculator online, or if you prefer, we have some instructions on how to do it yourself.

Established by the federal government as a standard to determine obesity, Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. A Body Mass Index between 18.5 and 25 is ideal. People with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 are overweight and a BMI greater than 30 indicates obesity. Being overweight increases the chances of serious health risks like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But Body Mass Index is not a foolproof measurement. Though muscle tissue weighs more than fat tissue, BMI calculation doesn’t recognize the difference between muscle and fat; an aggravating footnote for people who spend a lot of time at the gym. For those who lead more sedentary lives however, BMI can be a useful first indicator of general fitness.

Use Discovery Health’s free BMI calculator to find out what your body mass index is. Simply put in your height and weight, and let Discovery Health’s free BMI calculator work for you.

Here are instructions in case you prefer to figure your BMI yourself:

         First you will need to know what your height is in inches. This is quite simple, just take your height and multiply it by 12 and add the inches. For example if your 6’2”, take 6 feet times 12, which is 72. Then add the 2 extra inches, which is 74 inches. Simple enough. Write this number down.

         Next in figuring your BMI, you will need to know your weight in pounds. This can be done on any scale measured in pounds. Write this number down.

         Now we are ready to calculate. Take your height and multiply it by itself. So in the previous example, just multiply 74 x 74, which is 5476. Now multiply that result by 703. This number is fixed. It’s always the same when calculating BMI. Continuing with our example, we take 5476 x 703, which equals 3849628.

         Then, divide your weight by that result. So say the weight in pounds is 180. We take 180 / 3849628, which equals 4.6 lbs. So in this example, the person who is 6’2” and 180 lbs is overweight by 4.6 lbs. This is how you figure Body Mass Index.

Let’s make a pact to take better care of ourselves and keep those hearts ticking!

Source: CDCP; American Heart Association; Strive; eHow.com/health; Discovery Health.