You know about measuring your resting heart rate, counting calories, and tracking your steps. We’re told that health statistics are so important—and in the age of new technology, our fitness gear and tech devices do all of the tracking and monitoring of our body’s health and wellness for us. But, how is one supposed to use all of the data they are given?
We’re here to tell you which health statistics are important to focus on and what to do with the data overload you’re probably experiencing (especially if you’re new to keeping track of your fitness!).
Which Health Statistics Should I Check Often?
Some health statistics you can measure on a daily or monthly basis. These health statistics are important to record if you’re working on your fitness or worried about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Hours of Sleep
Sleep is so important to your health. Individuals who get more sleep have more energy and tend to manage depression or anxiety more easily. Ideally, it’s best to get eight hours of sleep per night to maximize your health.
Measure your hours of sleep daily. Track it by the time you go to bed until your morning wake-up time. If you’re using a sleep tracker or an iPhone app connected to your smartwatch, you might notice that it collects data on your REM sleep too. For the most part, you can ignore that information—measuring the overall time slept is enough because it includes your REM sleep.
Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate tells you how fast your heart is beating when your body is at rest (or not exercising!). An optimal resting heart rate for a healthy individual should lie between 60 to 100 beats per minute—although, a lower resting heart rate indicates a higher level of cardiovascular fitness.
Measuring your waist size can offer you some serious insight into your health. Waist size can give you an estimate of internal fat and alert you to whether you are carrying visceral fat. Visceral fat produces toxic chemicals of which can impact your cholesterol, insulin, and other important bodily functions.
Measuring your waist size monthly will give you the most accurate data. To do so, simply wrap a measuring tape just above your hips. Be sure to exhale before you measure. You should aim for a waist size that’s less than half your height.
Body Fat Percentage
Body fat percentage is a number that tells you how much fat is in your body. Sure, you could weigh yourself on a regular scale, but that won’t separate your muscles from your body fat. For example, you might be working out more and seeming to gain weight, but unsure of whether it’s just muscle mass. Find your body fat percentage using a smart scale.
Which Health Statistics Should I Check Yearly?
Some statistics don’t change quite as often—but they’re commonly checked by a doctor at your yearly wellness visit. On a yearly basis, you should check the following health statistics (even if you’re not going to a wellness visit with your doctor!).
Cholesterol is a predictor of heart disease, so measuring this as part of your yearly physical is essential to keeping you well. Your doctor can measure the lipids in your blood to tell you four things: total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Have your doctor take a blood test at your annual visit to check your cholesterol levels. You can keep up with this health statistics year to year in order to maintain a healthy physique
It’s important to monitor your blood pressure to determine your risk of health problems in the future. High blood pressure puts an extra strain on your arteries and on your heart. Over time, this strain can weaken your cardiovascular system. Knowing your blood pressure can help you make lifestyle changes to better yourself before it’s too late.
If you’re generally in good shape, checking your blood pressure yearly is still an important task. You can purchase a blood pressure monitor to measure this health statistic at home, or you can wait for your annual physical at a doctor’s office.
Blood sugar tests measure the amount of glucose that’s in the bloodstream—it helps predict your risk for diabetes, stroke, and heart attack. In addition to cholesterol and blood pressure, your doctor may measure your blood sugar once a year at an annual physical.
Your doctor will be able to tell you what a good measurement is for you and your specific situation—and, if you’re hovering around the prediabetic stage, they can help you decide on a solution to get your blood sugar under control.
What To Do If Your Results Are Bad
If you’ve received bad results from any of your annual tests, your doctor may suggest some serious lifestyle changes. In order to lower cholesterol, blood sugar, or blood pressure, you need to develop a healthy diet and exercise plan.
To transform your health statistics into actionable steps, start with sleep. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, then change your exercise habits. Slowly incorporate new foods into your diet too—and slowly take away foods that are no good for your health.
For most healthy individuals, bad health statistics can easily be reversed by simple lifestyle changes. While it may not seem simple at the time, changing your diet and exercise routines for the betterment of your health is best done in small steps.
Having a hard time? Find an accountability partner, join a gym, or start at a health club. Having someone there to encourage your progress is essential to meeting your goals.
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