What is going on with body image messages these days? Super-skinny girls dominate media, but images of curvier women promoting a “real woman” body are thrown around just as much. Then you have the counter-movement, with skinnier ladies arguing that they are REAL women too. Top it all off with varying standards for men including the super buff, the very thin, and everything in between and what do you have? Confusion, self-esteem issues, and the emergence of some unhealthy habits.
So what is ideal when it comes to body size? Well, the answer isn’t all that straightforward.
One method of healthy body measurement is the BMI (body mass index) but pretty much all health and fitness experts agree that it’s an unreliable way of determining fitness (here is a good article on that)
So where does that leave you? How can you determine your fitness?
- Take a look at your height-to-waist ratio. Ideally, your waist measurement should be less than half of your height measurement. I’m five feet five inches tall, which is 65 inches, so my waist circumference should be less than 32 inches for optimal health. This is because weight carried around the midsection is generally much more harmful than extra weight in other places, such as your chest or hips.
- Test your planking skills. Time yourself while holding a plank and aim for 2 minutes. If you can make it for 2 minutes, there’s a good chance you’re fairly fit and healthy. Core muscles which are used to hold a plank are the same muscles which reduce back pain, among other things.
- Try the Sitting-Rising Test (SRT). This interesting test was developed to estimate a person’s length of life, but it provides very helpful fitness measurements as well. Simply stand barefoot on a hard floor and sit straight down, using as little support as possible. For each support you need to sit down (a hand on your knee, a hand on the floor, etc.) deduct one point from a perfect score of 5. Now do the same thing from the sitting position to the standing position. Using the side of your leg counts as a support! Total up your score. Ten would be perfect, meaning you used no support at all to get down or up. Shoot for a score above 7.
The main thing to remember is that being slim is not the same as being healthy, and being large is not the same thing as being unhealthy. Everyone’s body shape is different, so fitness looks different on different people. These tests can help you determine your current fitness level so you can take steps to improve it and live a longer, more healthy life. Healthy is always the most beautiful.
How do you measure fitness? What are your fitness goals?