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What's your number? It matters when it's your body

September 06, 2010|By Dr. ROBERT J. CIRINCIONE / Special to The Herald-Mail
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What's in a number? If we're talking about your body mass index, it's a lot. Body mass index, or BMI, is a number that is calculated from a person's weight and height. This number can give you a good idea of what condition your body is in when it comes to fat - and that number can correspond to many preventable diseases.

To calculate your BMI, simply take your current weight and divide by your height in inches squared. Then multiply that number by 703. Or, visit http://www.washingtoncountyhospital.com/bmi for an easy online calculator.

Knowing your BMI can help get you started on your way to better health. If your calculation is higher than 30, you are in the obese range. This number is important to know because weight control is at the center of preventing many diseases. If you can control your weight, you can lessen the risk of cardiac disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and heart failure. If you are overweight, that connects directly to your likelihood of disease and your longevity.

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When you know your BMI, you can start making choices to improve your health. Small changes can directly affect your current health and greatly reduce the development of future disease.

Get active. Regular physical activity can help you control your weight, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, reduce the risk of some cancers, strengthen bones and muscles and increase the chances of living longer. It only takes small steps and you can keep it simple. Start by walking your dog around your neighborhood or park your car farther away at the mall. Try walking up and down your stairs or some other low impact activities. You don't have to go out and buy exercise equipment or join a gym, just come up with a strategy to increase daily physical exercise.

Stop smoking. Want multiple benefits for giving up one activity? Controlling smoking, just like controlling your weight, is a small step that can directly affect your health immediately. We all know that cigarette smoking is bad for us, but did you know it's the leading cause of preventable death? Smoking greatly increases your chance of heart attack, stroke, heart disease, certain cancers, and lung diseases. Giving up smoking can be difficult to do and it might take multiple tries. Just because you try and fail once, doesn't mean you will fail next time.

Assess your risk. Have you considered getting a health risk assessment? The purpose of a health assessment or health screening is to detect for the potential of a disease that you don't currently have, but may be heading toward in the future. Lifestyle and medical treatment may reduce your chances of contracting a disease discovered in a health-risk assessment. By making practical changes that don't require a lot of time or monetary investment, you can make sure you are on the right path to living a long healthy life.

Dr. Robert J. Cirincione is an orthopaedic surgeon at Mid-Atlantic Orthopaedic Specialists PC and chief medical officer of TriState Health Partners. TriState Health Partners is a physician-hospital organization owned by more than 200 physicians and Washington County Hospital.

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