What are the most important things a woman can do to stay healthy in 2012? It starts with knowing yourself better. Analyzing some key facts about your body & health history will take you a long way to a 2012 full of great physical health & fun. Here are six suggestions to get you started:
1. Know your body composition. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that 25 to 30 percent of young women with a normal BMI (19 to 25) still carry excessive body fat. The easiest way to check your body composition is with bioelectric impedance analysis, available in many gyms and doctors’ offices.
2. Know your family’s health history. Quiz the heck out of relatives, then tell everything you learn to your M.D. Need help coming up with a list of questions? The U.S. Surgeon General’s Family Health Portrait (www.familyhistory.hhs.gov) offers easy instructions.
3. Know your cancer risk. The American Cancer Society’s Great American Health Check (www.cancer.org/greatamericans) asks a few questions about your personal and family health history and then generates a list of recommended screening tests, plus tips on how to reduce your health risks.
4. Know your cholesterol levels. A survey by the Society for Women’s Health Research revealed that less than a third of American women know their numbers. Get your cholesterol checked every five years, starting at age 20. You’re in the clear if your total number is under 200 mg/dL, with an LDL (that’s the bad kind) of less than 100 mg/dL and an HDL (that’s the good kind) of 50 mg/DL or more.
5. Know your resting heart rate. The lower the number, the less your heart has to work (and that’s a good thing). Take your pulse in the morning, when you’re most relaxed. Measure the number of beats in 10 seconds, then multiply by six. Your number should be between 60 and 80–even lower if you’re athletic.
6. Know your waist-to-hip ratio. The best test for predicting heart attacks may be the proportion of your waist to your hips. Measure your waist at the smallest point, then measure your hips at the widest point. Divide the first number by the second number: an ideal ratio is 0.8 or lower.