Evidence based metrics to track your health progress

Even though BMI (body mass index) and body weight have been ingrained into our brains through healthcare and fitness industry standards, there is more to health than just body weight. It is possible to be healthy without having a healthy BMI. There are other metrics that better correlate with cardiovascular and metabolic health.

Now, you may ask – What is wrong with BMI?  The real issue is BMI has been shown time and again as a metric that isn’t a reliable indicator of health. It doesn’t reflect health status across diverse populations of various ethnicity & activity levels.

Science is constantly evolving: ABSI is a new measure that incorporates both BMI and waist to height ratio into the calculation. It is more complex and so far, seems to be a better predictor of health compared to BMI. ABSI takes into consideration your body composition, your body shape’s proportion to height and weight. It’s not just about having a smaller waist or a smaller weight, it’s about how you carry your weight. Is there enough muscle mass? Is there too much body fat that is unhealthy? ABSI tries to answer these using an empirical formula. More research needs to be done to make sure this metric actually is applicable to a wider diverse population.

Waist to height ratio (WHR) is another metric that can be easily measured with an inch tape and is better at predicting metabolic health compared to BMI. Unlike BMI, WHR correlates well with health irrespective of gender, ethnicity etc. Unlike ABSI, WHR is a much simpler metric but time-tested and very useful for tracking progress if you are trying to improve your health.

Emotional & mental health are as important as physical health. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a great indicator of both emotional and physical health. It is generally good to have a high HRV, which means you’re adequately recovering from everyday stresses. Having a low HRV means you are either physically / mentally stressed or inactive.

Knowing the various aspects of health and how to keep track of them, it is always better to look at the big picture of your health. Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity.

It is always better to look at trends of WHR or HRV over a few weeks. That way, you know if your physical/mental health is improving or declining. Use caution if you are into measuring body weight or waist inches regularly. Look at these health indicators, but also keep an eye on your mood and energy levels. Always zoom back out into the big picture and continue improving your health!

Other than body weight and BMI, have you tried measuring any of these better health metrics? Comment below your thoughts or questions

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