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What the Body Mass Index (BMI) won’t tell you?

Updated on March 31, 2012

It’s physically strenuous lives rather than ‘healthy’ food that keeps you fit

Many millennia ago our ancestors had to actively hunt and scavenge for food which kept their bodies healthy and fit. With the advent of farming, food has become both regular easily available. The technology today is so advanced that we can order food from our living room through online instead of going out looking for it as our forefathers used to do. This development takes a spectacularly small amount of time and effort and our bodies have not yet had the chance to evolve and adapt to these drastic changes. So our biological system still is keen to store excess food as fat anticipating shortages in the future. This means most of us do not lead physically strenuous lives on a day to day basis even if we consume ‘healthy’ food. Where this was not a problem for early humans due to irregularity of supply, it can be very unhealthy for us.

What the Body Mass Index (BMI) won’t tell you

Most people tend to use the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale which can give a guide for correct weight, but BMI does not take into account if the body weight is due to fat or muscle. Even the increase in BMI over a period of time for an average human being is quite startling. From the period of 1960-2002, the average BMI rose from 24.9 to 28.1 (25.1 to 27.8 for men) and this is particularly important as the average has crossed the 25 mark which is the highest allowable healthy BMI.

It is acceptable to have a certain level of fat in our bodies which typically can be 20-35% for women and 10-25% for men. But the increase in BMI due to increase in weight can have serious repercussions for health, especially heart related problems which has been in the decline since 1985. The chances of suffering from a fatal heart attack will increase by 60% for middle aged men if obese. These are scary figures and should motivate you to get up and start exercising!

Ok so you’ve made up your mind to begin exercising, there are a lot of things you can do which should all improve your health no end.

Merely becoming a member would not make you fit

Gym is the traditional and most effective way of getting fit as gym will give you a wide range of options. However this effective only if you regularly go to the gym! Merely becoming a member would not give you the desired results. One of my friends drive to the gym, takes the lift to the third floor, and runs on the treadmill. Is that the modern way of live?

More than half the people who become members tend to quit within the first 6 months. It can be seen as tedious and boring, but I think it is vital to have a goal to work towards. This does not have to be a certain weight loss and it can be increased weightlifting, spending longer or increasing the speed on the treadmill. This will hopefully keep you motivated to continue.

The downside to gyms is that they can be quite expensive, typically ranging from £20 to over £100 pounds per month. There is a lot of choice and research should be done to find the best one in your price range.

Running outdoor is free

If running indoors staring into a mirror is not your cup of tea then maybe you should consider running outside. It is free! It can be nice to run in the ‘green gym’ as it keeps you amused with the changing scenery around you. As you look around while running, you tend to lose track of time and is no longer boring.

However, you do lose some of the comforts of running on a treadmill (in a gym). The weather can be unpredictable especially in the UK and you can’t control the terrain. When I began running outside, I found it difficult because of the slopes which I was previously able to control in the treadmill. Also you can’t simply stop and get something to drink or eat or completely stop. You will have to run/walk back home and sometimes this can be inconvenient.

It is important to take the right precautions while running both indoors and outdoors. Running with the wrong footwear or without warm up can cause problems for the knees and legs. So it is well worth investing in some good running shoes and warming and cooling down after runs to avoid injury.

Swimming is fun

This is an excellent way of keeping fit; by far it causes the least amount of damage to your body. It can also be a fun way of exercising if you go with friends or family. I find it to be the most efficient way of burning calories. Just a few minutes of swimming can leave you gasping for breath or maybe that’s just me! Memberships at swimming pools can be expensive but there are many incentives for people to get fit from the government so there should be some discounts at your local leisure centre. If you don’t know how to swim then it’s never too late to learn and there are classes for all ages. It can be very rewarding to learn a new skill.

Something more than just to keep you fit

I find that doing an activity just to keep fit can become tedious after some time and the one thing that is bound to keep you coming back for more is to take up a sport. This can be team based or individual. Once you become hooked, you will be getting fitter without even realising it. The allure of competition can be enough for many people but also the fun aspect of meeting new people and taking part in exciting new events will keep you interested. If you take up a sport, you won’t be short of motivation to get up and start training.

I hope I have helped in small way to show the importance of keeping fit and a few ideas and how to do so. I have only scratched at the surface of things that you could do. It would be good to explore the plethora of things you could do. The most effective method tends to be a combination of a few of the things I have laid out so that you don’t get bored quickly.


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    • cloverleaffarm profile image

      Healing Herbalist 6 years ago from The Hamlet of Effingham

      Great hub, and thanks for all the info. I love to swim, it's a great way to exercise, and easy on the joints. I agree with you on the BMI. It says I can weigh from 125-160. At 125, I think I would be a skeleton. Vote up and useful