From the NHS to LOL, acronyms seem to have hijacked our daily language.
While the visual of ROFL is indeed quite funny, other such descriptors are significantly more important, and more expressive of today's social trends.
Besides, with emojis now having their own movie, does anyone even use the acronym ROFL anymore?
One particular collection of letters represents much more than its words.
Imagine your Body Mass Index, or BMI, as a giant marquee.
It tells your fitness specialists: doctor, fitness instructor, Pilates or Zumba group leader, or other exercise trainers what level of health and wellness you are currently at.
That being the case, wouldn't it pay to know everything that indicator can tell you, and how to improve you rate, if needed?
Nationally, Britons are dawning to a new awareness of their food.
From healthier food choices to advances made in preparing meals; from the telly preaching healthy lifestyle to dietitians recommending weight loss menus:
we are growing ever more conscious of our eating habits, our weight, and the prevalence of junk food on grocer's shelves.
Vegans, vegetarians and others who pay attention to such things would aver: in a country like the UK, where fully two thirds of the population is either overweight or obese, the tide toward healthy eating is changing all too slowly.
People will not change their eating habits overnight.
Our health fitness professionals guide explains how excess body fat impacts your life, and how you can get a handle on it.
Our fitness and nutrition experts chime in on food choices targeted to specific workouts and how your calorie intake influences your fitness goals.
Lace up your trainers and let's get started!
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What is a BMI an How do you Calculate it?
Your body mass index is an indicator of corporeal mass, used to determine whether your weight is suited to your height.
BMI is an indicator of overall health, and is applicable to all genders, from the late teenage years to late adulthood.
With but a bit of information about the body in question, one can easily calculate its corpulence: overweight or obese.
Or, by contrast, whether said person's weight is just right for his height, or is underweight.
A low BMI number is not necessarily an indication of good health.
A BMI calculation is a fairly simple way to evaluate weight-associated risks in order to:
- spot weight fluctuations an track weight changes in a population
- formulate individualized nutrition plans for weight loss – or gain, as needed
- Determine an individual's healthy weight range
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A Bit of Background, Now
This critical health measurement was formerly known as the Quételet Index, after the person who established it: a Belgian named Lambert Adolf Jaques Quételet.
He was a mathematician, statistician, astronomer, and sociologist.
What a resumé!
Some one hundred and twenty years after our Renaissance man established the formula, the idea of correlating a body's mass to its overall health gained traction.
Coincidentally, that happened at the peak of a revolution in the food industry: additives, the proliferation of fast food chains, along with the convenience of drive thru.
Coupled with an increase in sedentary jobs and pastimes, such as watching television, this trifecta brought BMI back to the forefront of the fitness discussion.
That was around 1972, and the term was really only bandied about in gyms and fitness centers.
Maybe a few doctors' offices, too, especially if the staff were sports enthusiasts.
Exactly twenty-five years later, there was a resurgence of BMI and exercise science.
In the face of a growing global obesity epidemic, the World Health Organisation yanked the acronym out of relative obscurity, dusted it off and presented it as THE standard of body fat measurement.
Part of the reason for that, of course, is that people around the world are getting fatter and health fitness professionals are worried about it.
But the main reason the WHO adopted BMI as the standard of fitness measurement is because using only body weight as a variable did not take into consideration the height of the body in question.
A body weighing 180 pounds at 1.83m tall is leaner than one that is 1.65m tall.
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The BMI Formula
The sheer logic of assessing a mass within its frame is so common-sense, you may want a calculation of your own body mass.
Here is the formula: weight (kg) / height (m)²
If done correctly, you should get a two-digit number, possibly with a decimal, hopefully above 18 and lower than 30.
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Interpreting Your BMI Score
There is some measure of debate over the limits of each weight class. For example, some charts say anything over 29 is considered obese, while others maintain 30 as the upper limit of healthy weight.
Still, from chart to chart, the optimal range does not fluctuate (much).
Between 18.5 and 25: your body has the optimum balance for healthy living.
You can sustain it by maintaining your current calorie intake and engaging in resistance training
Between 25 and ~30: you would be considered overweight
you can lose the excess by lowering your caloric intake and engaging in functional training
Between 30 and 35: you would be considered obese
before you engage in any fitness program, you should undergo a health assessment.
Anything over 35: you could be considered morbidly obese
your healthcare professional may suggest weight loss surgery, a radical food plan and/or corrective exercises to relieve stress and repair your joints.
If you BMI calculation reveals a number below 18.5, you are sliding into the dangerous field of the underweight.
Some may lay claim to a natural size 0 and others may have high metabolism bragging rights.
For most of us, such a low body mass could be indicative of a serious health condition such as anorexia or bulimia, and possibly depression.
Further health complications could result, such as: chronic anaemia, vitamin deficiency and even early onset osteoporosis if said person's weight remains the same.
If your BMI result is less than 16.5, you are in real danger of serious health consequences.
In all cases, if you or someone you know has insufficient body mass, it would be best to refer them to a physician.
BMI for Special Populations
In spite of all acclaim for this health measurement tool, in spite of its wide proliferation, in spite of it being adopted by the WHO as THE international standard of health assessment, a body mass index calculation is not suited to everyone.
For one, it does not take into consideration musculoskeletal density.
Some people are big-boned while others' skeletons are, by comparison, dainty
And, most certainly: not everyone has the same muscle mass or bone density
a highly conditioned athlete will mostly likely have a higher BMI than someone of the same height who has not worked out to that degree.
Expectant and post natal mothers will surely reflect a distorted BMI.
The BMI calculation is not suitable for the disabled
Definitely not for the wheelchair-bound or for amputees.
Finally: while this measurement is deemed suitable for anyone aged 18 to 65, one could argue that the average young adult has greater bone density and more muscle mass than older adults, even if they are the same weight and height.
And even if the older body is moderately active.
How to Get Back into Ideal Range
The numbers are the numbers – K. Almond
It is important to keep in mind that the body mass index is an indicator of health, not a guilty verdict or a death sentence.
For a true picture of your current health, you should consult with your general practitioner.
If you hope to start working out, there are a few steps to take before lacing up your trainers.
1. Undergo a thorough fitness assessment.
This should involve cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory fitness, measured through aerobic exercise.
You should also have some blood samples tested, especially if you are a risk for any thyroid conditions that could impact your metabolism.
2. Talk with a certified personal trainer.
The Internet is rife will how-to videos, including how to get fit.
Are any of them the right program for you?
Talking with a fitness specialist would help you recognise which types of workout would be most beneficial to you: for your body type, for your current level of fitness, and for your fitness goals.
A personal fitness trainer would motivate you, too!
You may have to start off with remedial exercises – stretching and breathing, maybe some gentle aerobics. Nothing that would cause musculoskeletal damage or unduly tax your heart and lungs.
Functional training – exercises that help improve movement for daily activity, would be the next step.
You may use light dumbbells and/or kettlebells, a weight bar or light barbell and some resistance bands at this stage of your physical training.
Once you have attained a satisfactory level of sports conditioning, your program design could go a number of different ways:
resistance training: using weights, bands and even gravity to build muscular endurance
strength training: to gain muscle mass
a more holistic training program, such as yoga or tai chi
you could investigate other martial arts disciplines, too
As you have started your fitness career; while you gained strength and conditioning, your fitness professional should also have shared knowledge about what to eat – for your body type, metabolism and for maximum benefit to your fitness regimen.
There is nothing like exercising to kick your metabolism in high gear.
If one reason for your personal training was to lose weight, your gym instructor most likely suggested you cut calories and sugars.
By contrast, if you aim to compete in a marathon or train as a bodybuilder, your nutritional requirements would run more in line with proteins and carbs.
For more information on healthy food choices and meal planning, you can consult the NHS website.
The most recent statistics reveal that one third of all British children, aged 2 to 15, are either overweight or obese.
By all reports, our youths are simply not moving enough.
In spite of their being physical education programs in public schools, one could deduce that the effort does not go far enough to stem the current, heavy tide.
Enrolling your child in exercise programs outside of school is the first step to preventing childhood obesity.
If you follow a personal training program to stay fit, perhaps your child(ren) could join you.
The fitness industry is aware of the growing child obesity crisis, and conducts youth fitness training initiatives.
Teenagers can benefit from fitness boot camps, for example.
If all of that seems out of reach – because of your busy schedule or because you live in a remote area, perhaps you could consider a home training program: a combination of nutrition and functional movement.
Or, you could engage an online personal trainer.
Superprof offers one on one or small group personal training programs online for everyone: child, young adult, or senior citizen!
As with youths, so with seniors: more and more health clubs are concerning themselves with fitness education for the elderly.
Aqua-jogging and -biking are great workout programs for those looking for the next level of cardiovascular fitness and satisfying muscle tone.
However, it is not unusual to find a group of seniors enjoying their personal fitness training in the pool.
Water aerobics can help seniors reach their fitness goals, while easing joint and muscle pain.
If your Gran – or your baby is in need of fitness training, finding a suitable exercise program has never been easier.
If you are concerned about body mass index, getting yourself and your family back into normal range only requires a touch of motivation and a bit of fitness education.
Hopefully, we've given you a start on both.