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Healthy living: steps to take stock of your health

BY: WebMD

Whether you're hoping to get stronger, lose weight, or lower your odds of disease or all of the above you ought to take a moment to establish your baseline.

You won't be able to track your progress unless you know where you're starting from.

Before you dive in, take a look at these measurements and circumstances.

They'll help you get a handle on your current health status so you can confidently move forward knowing what's what.

Weight and Waist

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What the scale says is hardly the only thing that matters when it comes to being healthy, but it gives important clues about your risk for many conditions, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and much more.

To figure out if your weight is in the healthy zone (or how much change is in order), step on the scale. Then use a calculator to find your BMI (body mass index), which takes into account your height as well as your weight: 150 pounds means something very different on someone who's over 6 feet tall vs. barely 5 feet. A BMI of 18.5-24.9 is considered "normal."

Next, grab a tape measure.

Even if your BMI is normal, extra fat around your midsection (abdominal obesity) means you're more likely to get type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

A healthy waist circumference for a man is 40 inches or less; for women, it's no more than 35 inches.

Blood Numbers

If you don't know your cholesterol (including the breakdown of LDL and HDL), blood pressure, and blood sugar, it's time to see your doctor.

Generally speaking, for a healthy adult they should be:

Blood pressure: less than 120/80

Total cholesterol: less than 200 mg/dL

Fasting blood glucose (or blood sugar): less than 100 mg/dL

Your doctor may have different target numbers for you depending on your current medical situation and any lifelong conditions you have.

Exercise

While any activity you do is better than nothing, guidelines suggest that most adults aim for at least 2 1/2 hours of moderate-intensity activity each week.

If you tend to rack up your exercise in small spurts rather than a long workout at the gym, that's OK, but consider wearing a pedometer for a week so you can get a better sense of your typical activity level.

Many experts recommend at least 10,000 steps per day, which is about 5 miles.