Q: What is Body Mass Index?
A: Your BMI is a measurement of based on weight and height. It’s ease of measurement and calculation makes it one of the most widely used diagnostic tools to identify weight problems within a population. This measurement can be found using the following formula: BMI = weight (lbs.) x 703 / [height (inches)]2
I.e. A 150 lbs. woman who is 5’8 has a BMI of 22.8. People with a BMI of 25 or above are considered overweight, while those having BMI’s of 30 or above are considered obese and at serious risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Check your BMI using this formula. Where do your numbers fall? If you are in the overweight or obese category, you are among the 66% of Americans who also fall into this category. The future isn’t looking any better; a recent study done by Johns Hopkins University predicts that by the year 2015, 75% of U.S. adults will be overweight and 41% will be obese.
Q: How do I lower my BMI?
A: To lower your BMI, you simply need to lose weight. The lower your weight is, the lower your BMI will be. This can be controlled through diet and exercise.
Q: Which exercises are best to lose weight?
A: There are hundreds of exercises that can be done, with additional hundreds of variations to change them up. Your body gets used to doing the same thing repetitively, so it is important to add variety into your workout. Talk to a healthcare professional before beginning any new workout schedule to make sure it's the right choice for your body and health.
I.e. changing the weights, changing the sets, changing the repetitions, etc. You can use barbells instead machines, which use more muscle groups, or you can use dumbbells instead of barbells, which use even more muscles! Everything works differently for each person and if you aren’t noticing a change after 4-6 weeks, switch it up. All of these exercises build muscle to speed your metabolism and help you tone. You should feel better and notice a change in your body shape, or how your clothes fit. It is important to do some sort of weight bearing/weight lifting exercise at least three times per week.
Q: How can I make my hips/thighs/stomach, etc. smaller?
A: Unfortunately, it is impossible to spot-reduce or only lose weight in one area. One example I always like to use, is crunches. Even if one were to complete one million crunches everyday, this would not make your belly smaller. In fact, it would build your abdominal muscles and push the fat out farther! Don’t get me wrong, crunches are a great tool to tone your abs and to help strengthen your back, but weights for all of your muscle groups, as well as a good cardiovascular program, needs to be used with your workouts, as well.
Q: What is Cardiovascular Exercise?
A: Cardiovascular exercise, “cardio”, or aerobic exercise, is any type of activity that involves and places stress on the cardiovascular system; which is composed of the heart, the blood it pumps, and the blood vessels that transport the blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. Your heart is a muscle, too, and just like lifting weights to make your arms and legs stronger, it is most important that your heart remains the strongest muscle in your body. Cardio can be used as a warm-up, as a cool-down, or as your full workout. It should be done a minimum of three times per week, for at least 30 minutes.
Q: What should my heart rate be?
A: To receive the maximum benefits from your cardiovascular exercise, it is important to monitor your heart rate or pulse. This is how many times your heart beats each minute and this is how you measure the intensity of your exercise to make sure you are receiving the maximum benefits. To find your target heart rate, take 220-your age, then multiply by 60-80%.
I.e. For a 40 year old individual, his/her target heart rate should be between 108 and 153.You can check your own heart rate by gently placing your index and second finger on the palm side of your wrist below the base of your thumb, or on your lower neck on either side of your windpipe. Count the beats you feel for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. Most current cardio equipment will automatically check your heart rate for you, simply by holding onto the designated handles on each machine. You can also ask any fitness professional to help you with these numbers, or purchase a fitness watch, which can measure different aspects of your health.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Just go! Anything you do is going to be better than nothing … If you don’t know much about weight training, consider hiring a personal trainer to help you setup your program. Hiring a trainer doesn’t have to be full time. Even one or two sessions will help get you started safely. Attending classes are great because you will be in a safe environment with a certified instructor to lead you and a class full of participants to help keep you reliable.