Weight: what's healthy and why it matters

Health & Wellbeing -

Beach holidays, backyard cricket and nights out dancing with friends: they're some of the cornerstones of This Australian Life. They're also things you're likely to avoid if you're uncomfortable about your weight.

But being overweight not only stops you living life to the fullest, it's also closely tied to numerous health risks.

Heart disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnoea and sexual health problems are just some of the health consequences of obesity listed by the Australian Department of Health.

Thankfully, many of these conditions can be prevented by taking simple steps to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle.

But first, are you “healthy”?

To determine if your weight falls within the healthy range, start by calculating your Body Mass Index using the following formula:

            Your weight (in kilograms)       
  Height (in metres) x height (in metres)  = BMI

If your BMI falls between 18.5 and 25 you're considered of healthy weight for an adult. Between 25 and 30 is overweight, while 30 and above is obese.

You should measure the circumference of your waist too. For men, 94cm or less is considered healthy, while women should aim for 80cm or less. Up to 102cm (for men) and 88cm (for women) is considered overweight. Anything over those measurements is considered obese and brings a very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and even some forms of cancer.

Making healthy changes

The key to losing weight – and keeping it off – is making realistic changes to your diet and level of physical activity so they become part of your daily routine, independent health experts say.

Consider starting one snack at a time: instead of reaching for lollies or chips at afternoon tea time, swap that out for a piece of fruit, unsalted nuts or rice cakes. And eat slowly.

When it comes to meal times, don't dive into a drastic diet – frequent dieting can actually make you put on weight . Instead move towards a sustainable diet by filling up on fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes and protein.

Rather than adding fatty toppings for flavour, experiment with herbs and spices, a squeeze of lemon or a bit of greek yoghurt. Importantly, find things that you enjoy eating, not just the latest superfood or what's scheduled on a meal plan.

Changes to your level of physical activity should be similarly sustainable and simple – take the stairs or park further from your destination – and think about what you find enjoyable.

Working in the garden, kicking a ball with the kids, or having a hit of tennis with your mates are fun ways of incorporating exercise into your daily life.

It's also good to make yourself accountable by scheduling exercise with others, setting short-term measurable goals, and keeping a record of physical activity.

Backup plan

By taking steps to invest in your wellbeing you’ll be lowering your risk of future health issues

Unfortunately, there remain some things that are outside your control. Taking out Life Insurance can provide important protection for you and your family in case things don't go to plan.

With the peace-of-mind provided by protection, and the physical and mental perks associated with a healthy weight, you'll be well-placed to embrace your much-loved Australian life.

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