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Massage Today
August, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 08

Know Your Numbers

By Teresa M. Matthews, LMT, CPT

You've heard the term "wake-up call". All too often we hear our friends or relatives say they have had a "wake-up call" after they have experienced some sort of serious health condition. I heard this comment after someone I know had a heart attack.

My message to you this month is to know your numbers (understand them) and have your "wake-up call" before encountering a heart attack or stroke.

Too many Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease, with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke being the most common forms. Coronary artery disease and stroke are the most common causes of death in the United States. If we can un-derstand what our blood pressure, cholesterol, and significance of our weight all mean, we can control (avoid) heart disease.

Here are some numbers that we should be aware of in order to maintain a healthy life:

Blood Pressure Numbers

The top number is the "systolic pressure." Systolic blood pressure measures the pressure inside your blood vessels at the moment your heart beats. The bottom number is your diastolic pressure. Diastolic blood pressure measures the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats, when your heart is resting.

What's Too High?

Anything under 120/80 is considered normal blood pressure. If the average of your blood pressure numbers is more than 140/90, you have high blood pressure.

Weight

Body mass index (BMI) is your weight in relation to your height. A BMI that falls into the "normal" range means that your weight is in reasonable proportion to your height.

Follow the chart to see where you fall. (See Weight chart below.)

BMI Chart - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
The categories for BMI are:
Underweight
Normal weight
Overweight
Obese
...
...
...
...
Less than 18.5
18.5 - 24.9
25 - 29.9
30 or greater

BMR

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories that our body needs to sustain at rest. In other words, how many calories do we really need? Simply put, take your weight and multiply it times 9. That is what you need if you have no activity in your life. If you are active, multiply your weight times 10.

Calories

Remember that if you are trying to lose one pound per week, you need to have a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. Your body fat per-centage is simply the percentage of fat your body contains. There are scales and tools to calculate your body fat percentage.

Percentage Charts for Men and Women

Ideal body fat percentage for Men
Age(yr) Excellent Good Fair Risky
20-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-59
60+
10.8
12.8
14.5
16.1
17.5
18.6
19.5
20.0
20.3
14.9
16.5
18.0
19.3
20.5
21.5
22.3
22.9
23.4
19.0
20.3
21.5
22.6
23.6
24.5
25.2
25.9
26.4
23.3
24.3
25.2
26.1
26.9
27.6
28.3
28.9
29.5
Ideal body fat percentage for Women
Age(yr) Excellent Good Fair Risky
20-24
25-29
30-34
35-39
40-44
45-49
50-54
55-59
60+
18.9
18.9
19.7
21.0
22.6
24.3
25.8
27.0
27.6
22.0
22.1
22.7
24.0
25.6
27.3
28.9
30.2
30.9
25.0
25.4
26.4
27.7
29.3
30.9
32.3
33.5
34.2
29.6
29.8
30.5
31.5
32.8
34.1
35.5
36.7
37.7

Cholesterol Numbers

LDL cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries. That is why LDL cholesterol is referred to as "bad" cholesterol. The lower your LDL cholesterol number, the better it is for your health.

HDL cholesterol takes the "bad" cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries.

Triglycerides: Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar in the body are converted into triglycerides, which are stored in fat cells throughout your body.

Total Cholesterol

Your total blood cholesterol is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components.

Cholesterol Numbers/levels - Desirable
Total Cholesterol
LDL Cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol
Triglycerides
< 200 mg/dL (5.2 mmol/L)
< 100 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/L)
> 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L)
< 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)

The importance of these numbers is so our cardiovascular system can function efficiently. Heart and blood vessel problems do not happen quickly. Over time, the arteries that bring blood to the heart and brain can become blocked due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol. Buildup of plaque reduces blood flow to the heart (due to blockages in the arteries) causes heart attacks. Lack of blood flow to the brain from a blood clot causes a stroke.

Manage Your Numbers.

I went to a free health screening at a local health fair to gather my numbers. All of these numbers can be calculated and interpreted for you.

Controlling your body weight, blood pressure and cholesterol helps reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Once you know your numbers, then you can take action to live a strong, healthy life.


Teresa M. Matthews, fitness expert and world champion athlete, has 30 years experience in the fitness industry. She is the president and founder of Health, Wellness & Fitness Professionals, Inc. and is the owner of Arlington School of Massage and Personal Training in Jacksonville, Fla. She is a sports massage instructor for the Florida State Massage Therapy Association and was awarded the FSMTA 2009 Sports Massage Therapist of the Year award. Teresa travels the country teaching self care and wellness classes. Contact her by e-mail at with questions or comments.

 

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