What Do Your Numbers Say?

April 2, 2020

How do you know if you're healthy?

Or fit? Is there a  metric?

Yeah, there are six numbers you can track pretty easily.

I'm tracking 5 right now. I just learned about the sixth one and have ordered a simple test kit to measure it. More on that later.

Just like in business, your health and fitness leaves clues. Pay attention.

Health Metrics

  1. Waist to Height ratio. You know this one. Divide your largest waist diameter (yes the fattest part) by your height and you'll get a number. You'd like that number to be around 0.5 or less. If it's not (and especially if it's not even close), it portends some  bad things happening in your future. So a priority for you is  to reduce your body fat and drive your W/H down.
  2. Fasting Glucose. Don't wait until you're diabetic to get a blood glucose meter. Check your fasting glucose (fasting means you haven't eaten anything for at least 12 hours) to see how well your system is managing blood sugar. You're looking for a number below 100 mg/dl. Lower is better. A reading between 100 and 125 is kinda pre-diabetic phase. You're becoming insulin resistant and bad things are starting to happen. If you have a high W/H, you're almost certain to have high fasting blood sugar. There is a good strategy called "eat to your meter" which means eat foods that don't spike your blood sugar (like proteins, fats or higher fiber carbs). If you have high fasting blood sugar, you need to turn it around. This is a simple dietary intervention.  It can be done. Don't let this problem get worse. The earlier you intervene, the better.
  3. The third health marker (and one I haven't experimented with yet) is Saliva ph. I've known that oral health is a good indicator of gut health and overall health but hadn't heard that a simple ph measurement can be used to check it. I'm going to get some test strips and research what ranges are expected. I've already found inconsistencies in recommendations from slightly acidic (6.5 to 6.9) being healthy to slightly basic (7.1 to 7.5). Par for the course I guess. Gotta find the real expert.

Strength Metrics

  1. The Dead Bar Hang is not only a test of grip strength but overall strength. Getting stronger and adding muscle mass is always better for you. All health markers improve as strength improves like balance, body composition, bone density, blood lipids, glucose control, aerobic capacity, gene expression and brain factors. I think a 30 second Dead Bar Hang is the threshold you should shoot for. Over 30 seconds, you're strong and getting stronger. Under 30 means you're either carrying too much body fat or need more muscle. You can improve both. I've got a DBH challenge going right now. Are you in it? I got 80 seconds for my baseline hang. I'll get another data point this week. My goal is 160 seconds by around December 1.
  2. Resting Heart Rate measures the strength or capacity of your aerobic engine. A lower RHR means your stroke volume is increasing (left ventricle is getting larger) and your ability to uptake oxygen through your venous system is improving (more capillaries form). There's a lot of variation here but you should see your RHR drop below 60 as your aerobic system becomes better trained. All kinds of training will boost your aerobic capacity from long and low pure aerobic exercise to high intensity training and everything in between.
  3. The Farmer's Carry or Farmer's Walk is another overall strength metric you can use as well as an excellent training exercise. This is just walking for time with a load in each hand. I think a good goal is 75% of your bodyweight for about one minute. So if you weight 200 lbs, 75% is 150 which you divide by two (carry 75 lbs in each hand) and walk for 45 to 60 seconds. By the way, if you're ever short for time but still want an effective strength workout, just do some heavy Farmer's Walks. Pick up the dumbbells, walk until you're about to drop them, put 'em down for 2 minutes or so and then go again. Repeat for 3 to 4 sets.

OK, get your numbers. See where you stand. And then make a plan to improve. That's all you can do.

Want help with your plan? Set up a call here.

Don't leave your health and fitness to chance. The risks for messing up are high but your potential for doing great things is also high.

I vote for doing great things.

If you're unsure what to do once you get your numbers, let's talk on the phone.

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

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