How Healthy Are You? 13 Instant, Easy Health Checks
Are You Overweight?6. Record How Much Weight You've Gained Since High School
If it's more than 11 pounds, aim to shed that amount; this will go a long way toward improving your health and lowering your chances for disease. "Studies show an increased risk of the most common cancers if you've gained more than that," says Melanie Polk, RD, a nutrition consultant for the American Institute for Cancer Research. In fact, according to a study from the American Cancer Society, women who gained more than 20 pounds after age 18 had a 40 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who'd stayed within five pounds of their teenage weight. Conversely, losing weight reduces your overall risk for cancer. To keep weight off, join a structured weight-loss program, whether it's face-to-face counseling or online. A recent Brown University study found that people who followed these programs were able to lose weight and stave off regain more effectively than dieters whose only treatment was monthly newsletters.7. Track Your Toxic Fat
Lie down on your back and tense your abdomen, preferably in the morning before you've eaten breakfast. "If your stomach is flat you're in good shape, but if you see any sort of a pooch that makes you look pregnant, you probably have too much visceral fat, a type of inner abdominal fat that builds up around the organs like your liver and kidneys," says Pamela Peeke, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland and author of Body for Life for Women (Rodale Books, 2005). "I've dubbed this 'toxic fat' because it's been linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, even if you're thin." The best way to beat this sort of bulge? A combination of healthy eating and exercise. A recent Duke University study found that women who engaged in vigorous activity (the equivalent of jogging 20 miles a week) lost 7 percent of their visceral fat after eight months compared with sedentary subjects, whose belly fat rose by nearly 9 percent.8. Measure Your Waist
It should be no more than 32 inches; recent research from the Medical College of Wisconsin has found that women with waists smaller than that have the lowest risk of heart disease. "We now think that your waist size may be an even better predictor of your heart disease risk than what you weigh," says Dr. Goldberg. The reason: Women who are "apple-shaped" (larger around the middle) tend to have higher cholesterol levels and are more likely to be glucose intolerant, and both conditions increase your chances of cardiovascular disease. If you've got a wide waistline, you're already at risk, so see your doctor to get your cholesterol, blood pressure, and glucose levels tested. You'll also need to start dieting and exercising. Consider eating more low-fat dairy foods like yogurt: A University of Tennessee study found that women who were regular yogurt eaters lost 81 percent more fat around their middle than those who avoided it.
What do you think of this story? Leave a Comment.
SAVE EVEN MORE! Say "Yes" to Fitness® Magazine today and get a second year for HALF PRICE – 2 full years (20 issues) for just $15. You also get our new Fitness Band and Total Body Express Band Workout ABSOLUTELY FREE! (U.S. orders only)