If you have five minutes to spare, here are two easy calculations that provide a snapshot of your current body weight and corresponding health implications. Together, body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) tell you how well your fitness and nutrition regimen is working and if there is room for improvement.
The World Health Organization advocates BMI, a measurement of height versus weight, to provide a semi-accurate representation of overall health and risk of disease. The charts assume everyone has an average amount of body fat and muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat, so a lean athlete may incorrectly fall into the overweight or obese category. There are plenty of BMI calculators online, but here is the formula for that mathematician deep inside all of us.
- Multiply your weight (in pounds) by 703
- Divide this number by your height (in inches)
- Again, divide this number by your height (in inches)
While BMI gives you an idea if you are carrying more body weight (most likely body fat) than you should, the storage location of this extra fat is important. Persons with apple-shaped bodies are more susceptible to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and more than their pear-shaped counterparts.
To calculate your WHR, stand with your feet together and measuring tape in hand. Measure the circumference of the narrowest part of your waist and the widest part of your hips. Use the same unit of measurement for each and divide the waist value by the hip value.
For example, if your waist is 38 inches and your hips are 45 inches, here is your WHR calculation: