Healthy Body Measurements for a Woman
Body measurements can provide a good estimate of health status and risk factors for chronic diseases, but measurements alone do not determine health status. Health is a subjective phenomenon; every individual is distinctive. We are exposed to different risk factors based on environment, lifestyle and family history. Nevertheless, the three most commonly employed measurements utilized to estimate health status include body mass index, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio.
Body Mass Index
Body mass index is calculated from a person's height and weight, which may indicate fat composition. However, BMI does not account for muscle mass which means elite athletes may have high bmi ratings.
Typically, BMI is used as an indicator of health status as the lower or higher the BMI, the greater the health risk based on the assumed amount of body fat. The ideal healthy BMI for women would fall into the normal range of 18.5 to 24.9. The Arizona Department of Health Services reports 57 percent of Arizona women have a BMI of 25 or greater,.meaning they are overweight or obese.
As the term implies, waist circumference measures the distance around your waist. This measurement is considered to have greater value in assessing the health status of individuals than BMI as it more accurately predicts the amount of fat. Fat on the abdomen increases risks for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A woman's ideal waist circumference measurement should be less than 35 inches.
The American College on Exercise notes that your waist-to-hip ratio is the most accurate estimated measurement of good health. To find your ratio, divide your waist circumference by the measurement around your hips. An ideal waist-to-hip measurement for women is less than 0.75 inches indicates excellence and 0.80 to 0.86 indicates average. Anything above 0.86 is cause for concern.
The Most Accurate Measurements
Although knowledge of measurements can help you take charge of your health, further assessments such as diet evaluations, biometric screenings, physical activity tests and family history analysis should be conducted by a physician for the most accurate measurements.
- Centers for Disease Control: Healthy Weight-Its not a diet, its a lifestyle!
- University of Illinois: Waist Circumference
- American College of Sports Medicine: Measuring and Evaluating Body Composition
- American College on Exercise: What's Your Waist to Hip Ratio?
- Arizona Department of Health Services: Arizona Women's Health Status Report
Jennifer Carr, MSHE specializes in health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, alternative medicine and treatment for substance abuse. She has served as a health-care communicator and recovery coach, providing support and guidance for individuals going through treatment for addictions. Carr completed her Master of Science in health education at Arcadia University. She graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts.