Peninsula Integrative Cardiology

Understanding the Importance of Your BMI Score

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Your body mass index, or BMI, score is one way to measure your overall health. Learn more about why this number matters.

Your body mass index, or BMI, is a score that measures your weight and height. Among other things, it helps your healthcare providers learn how healthy you are and what future health risks you may face.

The BMI score has received some criticism because it doesn’t account for muscle mass. After all, according to BMI statistics, Arnold Schwarzenegger is technically obese, but most of us wouldn’t see him as “fat.” Still, your BMI is often an indicator of potential risks to your health; therefore, it’s important to know your score. Dr. Daniel Rieders of Peninsula Integrative Medicine explains the importance of knowing your BMI.

What is your BMI?

Your BMI is a medical tool that measures the ratio between your weight and height, providing an estimate of how much body fat you have. Although it’s not an exact science, it’s usually pretty accurate. 

The health risks associated with higher BMIs

Generally speaking, as your BMI increases (barring exceptions like pregnancy or extreme lean muscle mass), your risk of developing health-related diseases also increases. Some of the health conditions associated with higher BMIs include the following:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Sleep apnea
  • Several types of cancer (especially breast, colon, and prostate)

Of course, much of this is logical. Carrying around extra weight makes your body work much harder.

Additional measures of health

In addition to measuring your BMI, it’s also critical to determine your lean muscle mass, especially as you get older.

Starting around age 40, you lose about 8% of your muscle mass each decade. This amount may barely be noticeable from looking at the outside. But it makes a big difference in determining how healthy you are and how much you’re at certain risks as you continue aging. Some warning signs to watch out for include the following:

  • Slower walking speed
  • Having a hard time rising from a chair
  • Difficulty walking upstairs
  • Increased fatigue
  • Weaker grip strength

Although these things aren’t necessarily problems, they do indicate that you’re at greater risk of accidents, such as falls.

If you are at risk, what can you do?

If you’ve determined that your BMI or other health measurements indicate that you’re at risk of developing health problems in the future, don’t just resign yourself to it. Fight back — with the help of an expert like Dr. Rieders.

Integrative medicine is one medical approach that reviews your entire body, mind, and spirit holistically. It combines the best of conventional Western medicine, including its most cutting-edge technologies, with some time-honored practices that work to promote optimal health and healing.

You might have to overhaul your entire lifestyle to get the exercise, rest, and proper nutrition your body needs. Rather than feeling intimidated by the changes that you need to make, Dr. Rieders can help you feel empowered and encouraged to do it.

Whether you want to find out about your BMI score or get help in making positive lifestyle changes, take advantage of the resources available to you. Contact Dr. Daniel Rieders today at Peninsula Integrative Medicine in San Ramon, California, or schedule an appointment online.