Part of a heart healthy lifestyle is maintaining your weight in a normal range. A healthy weight is important for your overall wellbeing, not just your heart. Maintaining a healthy weight helps prevent diabetes, joint pain, breathing issues, blood pressure and so much more.
In the United States two-thirds of adults are overweight. Obesity in Americans have reached epidemic levels. Since 1991 the proportion of Americans who are obese has risen by 75 percent. Obesity in children is also rising quickly. Overweight adolescents have an increased risk of dying of heart disease in adulthood. Even our youngest are at risk with about 10% of preschoolers weighing more than is healthy.
Our waistlines are expanding for 2 simple reasons – we are eating more and moving less. We are supersizing our meals and then eating them in front of our computers, televisions or video games.
We are becoming a nation of couch potatoes and research links this behavior and obesity to many chronic diseases. It is impossible to overstate the dangers of being overweight.
If you are overweight you are more likely to develop heart disease even without any other risk factors. The more overweight you are your risk for heart disease increases. An unhealthy weight also puts you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, congestive heart failure, gallbladder disease, arthritis, breathing problems, and gout. You are also at increase risk for many cancers such as breast and colon.
An estimated 300,000 adults in the United States die of diseases related to obesity. Many of these deaths were preventable if they had maintained a healthy weight.
Do you need to lose weight?
Talk to your healthcare team about your weight and what a healthy range would be for you. You can also find out by taking three simple steps and discussing the results with your doctor.
- Get your number. Take a look at the BMI chart. You will see that your weight in relation to your height gives you a number called a Body Mass Index (BMI). A BMI from 18.5 to 24.9 indicates a normal weight. A person with a BMI from 25 to 29.9 is overweight, while someone with a BMI of 30 or higher is obese. Those in the overweight and obese categories have a higher risk of heart disease—and the higher the BMI, the greater the risk.
- Take out a tape measure. The second step is to take your waist measurement. For women, a waist measurement of over 35 inches increases the risk of heart disease as well as the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other serious health conditions. For men, a waist measurement of more than 40 inches increases these risks. To measure your waist correctly, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out.
- Review your risk with your healthcare provider. Be sure to ask about other risk factors you may have. It is important to know whether you have any of the following:
- high blood pressure
- high LDL cholesterol
- low HDL cholesterol
- high triglycerides
- high blood glucose (blood sugar)
- a family history of heart disease
- physical inactivity
Age plays a role in your risk of heart disease as well. For men being age 45 or older increase your risk. Women your risk increases if you are 55 or older or have gone through menopause.
Metabolic syndrome that we talked about in our last article also increases your risk. If you are not sure what risk factors you may have ask your doctor.
Armed with all this information you should talk with your doctor about whether you should lose weight and what a healthy goal would be for you. Keep in mind your doctor will look at these guidelines.
- If you are overweight AND have two or more other risk factors, or if you are obese, you should lose weight.
- If you are overweight, have a high waist measurement (over 35 inches for a woman; over 40 inches for a man), AND have two or more other risk factors, you should lose weight.
- If you are overweight, but do not have a high waist measurement and have fewer than two other risk factors, you should avoid further weight gain.
Losing even a little weight may help
A small weight loss of just 5 or 10 percent of your current weight will help to lower your risks for heart disease and other medical conditions.
Remember you didn’t gain the weight overnight and you will not lose it overnight. The best and healthiest way to lose weight is to do so gradually. Get regular physical activity and eat a balanced diet. Chose foods lower in calories and saturated fats.
To develop a weight-loss or weight-maintenance program that works well for you, consult with your doctor, registered dietitian, or qualified nutritionist.
- “I’d love to take a walk—tomorrow when it is warmer.”
- “I can’t wait to start yoga—if I can find a good class.”
- “I’m going to start lifting weights—as soon as I get the time.”
- “I will go to the gym – once I lose some weight
It is easy to make excuses instead of looking for solutions to make it work. We think our bodies will forgive us (especially when we are young). If it is chilly, wear warm clothes and walk. Start with any class that fits your schedule, you never know you may love it! Give up some television time and move. Go to the gym, we promise you will see many different shapes and sizes. Do not let excuses lead to an early death. Lack of physical activity also leads to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.
We keep saying only 30 minutes of moderate intensity on most, but preferably all days of the week will help to protect your heart and your overall health. Moderate activity is a brisk walk, light weightlifting, dancing, raking leaves, washing your car, cleaning your house or gardening. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each.
There is always tomorrow, until there isn’t.
Remember regardless of age or current state of health it is never too late to start protecting your heart. It is also never too soon and the sooner you act the better. Follow us on Facebook to see our latest post helping to keep you heart healthy. You can also explore all our articles that offer diet and exercise tips, recipes and information on procedures and heart disease.
Dr. Bobish and her team focus on preventative care and are here to support you. Alpine Cardiology provides patients with education as well as compassionate care and treatment. We are committed to keeping you healthy and heart smart! Request an appointment at 989-448-7002
Guide to a Healthy Heart
We are committed to keeping Northern Michigan healthy and heart-smart!
Over the next several months we will be publishing a series of articles that will become A Guide to a Healthy Heart. By breaking these guidelines into chapters we are able to offer more in depth information on the topics. Watch our Facebook page or website for the latest article.
Alpine Cardiology’s goal is to give you a better understanding of how to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of your heart. To take the mystery out of what the tests are and what they mean. To encourage you to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk factors and how to reduce your risk. The more you know and understand the more likely you are to be successful in reducing risk and having a healthier lifestyle.
Links to published chapters are below if you would like to explore the guide more.
- Why should I care about heart disease?
- Heart Disease – What you need to know
- Are you at risk of developing heart disease?
- What are your numbers?
- Major Risk Factors
- Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk
- Ways to Lower Your Cholesterol
- Weight and Heart Disease
- Diabetes and Heart Disease
- What Else Affects Heart Disease
- Risk Factors Specific to Women
- Taking Charge: An Action Plan for Heart Health
- Give Your Heart a Little TLC
- Figuring Out Fat
- Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 1
- Aim for a Healthy Weight – Part 2
- Time to be Active
- You Can Quit Smoking
- Aspirin – Take with Caution
- Heart Healthy is a Family Affair
- A Change of Heart