Get a grasp on numbers critical to your health
A measuring tape is a better predictor of health risks than the scale. Dr. John W. Sensenbrenner, a highly rated primary care physician in Charlotte, N.C., says women should have a waistline of less than 33 inches and men's should be less than 37 inches. "Carrying too much central fat leads to heart disease, high blood pressure and bad cholesterol," he says.
The human body is made of more than 90 percent water, so it's important to keep well-hydrated. To accurately calculate how many ounces you need, take your weight and divide it in half. "A 120-pound person should drink 60 fluid ounces of water, skim milk or fruit juice a day," says Sensenbrenner, who adds anything caffeinated doesn't count.
Having higher numbers of HDL, the good kind of cholesterol, has been shown to lessen the risks of developing heart disease. "Men should shoot for an HDL greater than 40 and women for a HDL greater than 60," Sensenbrenner says.
The risk for health issues continues to double for every 20 points added to the top number of a blood-pressure score. For example, someone with a blood pressure of 140/80 has a 100-percent higher chance of heart disease than someone with an ideal score of 120/80.
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