Four areas where you can evaluate your health and wellbeing
Ever wondered how healthy you actually are? With the ever-growing world of social media, it’s easy for us to be overwhelmed with the amount of information available to us. “Try a diet of green juice cleanse to eliminate toxins from your body” or “follow my muscle building workout routine and you’ll end up looking like me” or “stop eating these five foods from your diet to get glowing skin”. Sound familiar? We’re here to help distil some of this information so you can evaluate your health in more simple terms.
Here are our four areas where you can measure your health and wellbeing to see how well you match up to our recommendations. Even better, it could help inspire some change or reinforce your great healthy habits!
The NHS recommends we don’t drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week. If you’ve ever wondered what that looks like, that’s approximately six pints or six medium glasses of wine each week, depending on strength. Try this unit calculator to see how many units you consume each week.
How can alcohol affect your health?
Regularly consuming too much alcohol can increase your risk of heart disease, strokes and some types of cancers. If you’re regularly drinking more than 14 units each week, it’s time to look at how you can reduce your intake. No-alcohol or low-alcohol alternatives have improved greatly over the years. Alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and having 3-4 alcohol free nights per week are a great place to start cutting down.
Whilst bodyweight and BMI can be good health indicators, waist circumference tends to be more useful. Being overweight or obese and carrying too much body fat puts us at a higher health risk, but being a normal weight does not necessarily alleviate this risk. The body can store body fat in different places. Visceral fat, which is fat stored in the belly around our organs, is particularly dangerous and has been linked to increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. See our blog on the best diet for weight loss for more information.
How to measure waist circumference
You can measure your waist circumference at home by using a tape measure. Find the bottom of your ribs and the top of your hips. Place the tape measure around your waist, halfway between these two points, normally just above the belly button. Take a natural breath out and take a measurement.
What is a healthy waist circumference for males and females?
The NHS states for men, a waist circumference below 94cm is low risk, 94–102cm is high risk and more than 102cm is very high. For women, below 80cm is low risk, 80–88cm is high risk and more than 88cm is very high.
How long can you stand on one leg for? Research1 shows that your ability to balance standing on one leg is linked to your health, fitness and potentially even lifespan. It’s associated with increased physical activity levels, a decreased risk of falls and is associated to quality of life. According to the NHS, approximately one in three adults over 65 will have at least one fall a year. Whilst most don’t result in a serious injury, there’s a real risk of broken bones and reduced mobility. So, to test yourself at home, grab yourself a stopwatch and see how long you can stand on one leg for before you put the other foot down. If you can’t hold for longer than 10 seconds, it’s time to get practicing! Try standing on one leg whilst you brush your teeth or wait for the kettle to boil.
Mobility and flexibility
Having a good level of flexibility and mobility allows our muscles and joints to move through all of the actions we need for our daily activities. Maintaining good levels of movement has been linked to improved quality of life, reduced pain and increased vascular health. Stand with your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart. Keeping legs straight, lean forward and reach for the floor. If you can’t touch your toes, it needs some attention! Check out STONE’s mobility and flexibility program here.
How do you match up?
This is by no means an extensive list, nor the most important variables, but a reminder that health is about much more than being a healthy weight. These cover different facets of health and serve as a reminder that the work you do outside of the gym is just as important as the work done inside the gym! Pick two or three things you could practice at home every day or week that cover a different aspect of health than the one you’re currently focusing on at the gym. Maybe it’ll be to go to bed before 11pm, or eat a portion of veg with each meal, or have one extra alcohol-free day this week.
- Br J Sports Med 2022;0:1–7