Healthy Body Weight: What’s Yours?
February 18, 2013

Healthy Body Weight: What Is It And How Do You Find Yours?

Rayshell Clapper for — Your Universe Online

In the last few decades, increasing emphasis has been placed on having and maintaining a healthy body weight. Yet as the trend towards skyrocketing obesity in the US indicates, this is a struggle for many people, in part because maintaining a healthy body weight requires great effort, but also because many simply don´t know what exactly their healthy body weight is.

The first step toward finding a healthy body weight is to understand and know your BMI, or body mass index. The BMI is a number calculated using a person's height and weight, and can provide a reliable — although imprecise — indicator of body fatness for most people. It is also used by many health professionals to screen for weight issues that can lead to health problems.

To calculate your body mass index, simply do the following:

Weigh yourself to determine your weight in pounds, and measure yourself (or have someone else measure you) to determine your height in inches. Multiply your weight by 703. Then take this number and divide it by your height squared. The number that comes out is your BMI.

If you prefer equations, the formula looks like this:

BMI = (Weight x 703) / Height ^2

So for a person who weighs 145 pounds and is 72 inches tall, the formula for BMI would look like this:

BMI = (145 x 703) / 72^2 = 19.66

(Warning: Be aware that the formula is different if you are using the metric system.)

If you don´t care for math or would like to double-check your own calculation, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention´s (CDC) website offers a free online BMI calculator. It is completely accurate and the website offers supplemental information about BMI, as well.

For all women and men, if the BMI is less than 18.5, a person is considered underweight. People with a BMI between 19 and 24.9 are considered to have a healthy weight, while a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Any BMI over 30 is considered obese.

Once you know your BMI and the category into which you fall, it is important to figure out what the proper course of action is for someone in your BMI category. If you fall into the underweight, overweight or obese categories, you may want to consider contacting a doctor/nutritionist to help you devise a plan for getting back to your healthy body weight.

The Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight Pyramid provides another valuable tool. By providing just a little bit of information (e.g. height, weight, gender, weight goal), the Mayo Clinic provides some great advice about how to lose or maintain weight by suggesting food portions and options, as well as exercises and activity choices.

The good news about learning how to live healthy and have a healthy body weight is there are now more online tools and valuable information to help you reach your goals than ever before. While you may find it particularly motivating to pay to see a nutritionist or personal trainer, they certainly aren´t necessary for you to start working toward your ideal body weight. With just a click you can start down the right path toward a fitter, healthier you. And if you find you do need more support than a website can offer or simply feel that you aren´t making any progress, you can always make an appointment with a health professional for guidance, advice and motivation.

Finally, what is important to understand is a healthy body weight and BMI for one person may not be the same for another. This is not about how much we weigh alone. It´s about taking a balanced, holistic approach to understanding health that includes not just height and weight, but also physical activity, eating and sleeping habits and stress. A healthy body weight is complicated, so we must stop comparing ourselves to others and focus on what is healthy for each one of us as individuals. Finding a healthy body weight starts with a healthy approach.