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How Do You Measure Up?

As the Mckinsey Maxim goes ‘You can manage what you measure’.

However many people have the perception that if I am thin than I am fit. This has led to us defining our health by the numbers on a set of scales. That skinny somehow means healthy. But research shows this to be untrue.

American professor Steven Blair is a thought leader when it comes to this area and has conducted several pivotal studies. Blair’s most infamous study looked at 50,000 people over 10 years comparing Attributable Fractions and risk of mortality. Blair looked at blood pressure, smoking, cholestrol, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular fitness (CVF), and the relationship of these to people who passed away during the time of the study. He found that low CVF was by far the strongest predictor of death.

Here are 4 common tests you can complete at home to give you a better indicator of your health.

1.Waist to Hip Ratio

What it measures: Body Composition

How to do it: To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, get a tape measure and record your waist and hip circumference. Then divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference.

Targets:

Men

Ideal 0.8

High Risk 1.0

Women

Ideal 0.7

High Risk >0.85

2. Push Ups

What it measures: Upper Body Strength

How to do it:  Keep your body in a straight line and your elbows pointing back, not to the sides. Lower until your chest is a fist’s height off the floor, and then push back up. See how many you can complete in 1 minute with perfect form.

Targets:

Men

Superior >34

Poor <10

Women

Superior >34

Poor <7

3. 2.4km (1 Mile) Run

What it measures: Cardiovascular Fitness

How to do it:  Do a short warm up then set the treadmill elevation to one degree. Walk/run at a constant pace until you complete 2.4km (1 Mile).

Targets:

Men

Superior <10:00

Poor >16:00

 Women

Superior <12:30

Poor >19:00

4. Sitting-Rising Test

What it measures: Function (potentially longevity)

How to do it:  simply sit down on the floor, and then get up, using as little assistance from your hands, knees, or other body parts as possible. For each body part that you use for support, you’ll lose one point from the possible top score of 10.

Targets:

  • Those who scored 0-3 were 6.5 times more likely to die during the 6-year-long study than those who scored 8-10
  • Those who scored 3.5 to 5.5 were 3.8 times more likely to die
  • Those who scored 6 to 7.5 were 1.8 times more likely to die

While I wouldn’t take the results of this study as “gospel” and become distressed if you are 30 years old and score a 3, it does provide an interesting perspective on the connection between mobility and health and can provide encouragement for many to get back in shape.

These are all great outcome measures of your health but perhaps the most important measures are those of your daily behaviours.

Here are 5 questions you should be asking yourself everyday

  1. How many hours have I slept?
  2. How many steps have I taken?
  3. How much water have I drunk
  4. How many vegetables have I eaten?
  5. How much time have I taken to offset my stress?

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