At the beginning of each new year, there is a lot of talk about getting healthy. Millions of people set goals to improve their health and fitness. The problem is that many people don’t know what the signs of health are and how to tell if they are healthy to begin with. The good news is that there is no one thing that determines how healthy someone is. Rather, it’s a variety of factors that come together that point to someone being reasonably healthy or not. Knowing some of those signs can make a world of difference in striving for good health and fitness.
“Good health is made up of numerous things, including one’s fitness level, mind and actions, and more,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “When we focus on being healthy, we can’t just focus on one thing. Good health is a package of things that go together.”
Many people tend to get hung up on weight as the primary determinant of one’s health. However, those who are of normal weight can also be unhealthy. Weight is only one factor in determining a person’s health. It doesn’t tell the whole picture. Here are 5 tips to tell if you are healthy:
- Weight. Perhaps a better indicator of one’s health than their weight is their waist circumference. According to the National Institutes of Health, a person’s waist circumference helps to screen for possible health risks. Those with more fat around their waist are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They report that the risks go up if people have a waist circumference larger than 35 inches for a woman and 40 inches for a man. Use a tape measure around the middle section of your waist after breathing out to get your circumference.
- Fitness level. There are a few fitness level tests that people can do to see how physically fit they are. These include being able to hold a plank position for at least 30 seconds, and being able to take a brisk one-mile walk in around 15 minutes’ time. The plank is a test of one’s strength, while the walk is a test of one’s cardio fitness. Those who exercise regularly will find it easier to perform these tests. Ideally, people should be aiming for at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week, which includes taking walks, running, biking, etc.
- Mental energy. Good health isn’t just about what is on the outside, it’s also about what goes on in the mind. Healthy people tend to be able to handle stress, are able to work productively, contribute to society, have good coping skills, and try to stay positive.
- Skin, nails, and hair. While we spend a lot of time trying to make them look great, they can also be windows to our health. Those who are losing a lot of hair, have dull skin or other conditions, and those who have yellowing or ridged nails may have underlying health problems. Some of these conditions are caused by health problems or may be a sign of a lack of necessary nutrients.
- How you feel. Ask yourself how you feel and if you feel healthy. People are often a pretty good gauge of whether or not their health and fitness is in good condition. If you try taking a walk and feel winded or you feel like you can’t play with the kids like you once could then it may be indicator that you need to focus on improving your health and fitness level.