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Welcome to Fit to the Core’s “Everything you ever wanted to know about fitness” blog. Everyday people are bombarded with conflicting health and fitness messages by the media. It can be overwhelming. I hope to clear up some of those conflicting messages by sharing what I have learned over the years and what I am still learning. The fitness industry is a young industry that is constantly changing and evolving. Let me clear up some of the confusion.

Beverly Brewer Karpinski

Math for Health: Do You Know Your Numbers?

One of the questions I always ask a new client is, “When was the last time  you went to the doctor?”  It surprises me how many tell me they don’t go to the doctor.  The most common reason being that they are “healthy”.


How do they know they are healthy if they never visit their doctor?  I’m not big on going to the doctor either, but an annual physical is a good idea.  Most of these individuals have no idea what their cholesterol level is.  And many find out for the first time what their blood pressure is during their fitness assessment with me.

There are key numbers you need to know that are essential for you to determine the status of your health.  If you don’t know these numbers, then you need to get them.  This will mean visiting your doctor and/or getting a blood test, possibly getting a fitness assessment with a personal trainer and some you can learn how to get yourself.  These are the numbers you need to know.

What is your body mass index? If  you don’t know what it is, follow these steps:   Multiply your weight by 703, multiply your  height in inches by itself (5’4″ would be 64 x 64), and divide the first number by the second number.  The answer should be less than 25 to be in the healthy range.  The higher the number, the higher the risk for coronary vascular disease.  The body mass index isn’t always the most reliable indicator of your fatness level and should be used along with the body fat test.

What’s your target heart rate zone? Your heart rate zone tells you how hard you should be working out during aerobic exercise.  If you don’t know yours, follow these steps:  Take 220-your age=Key number, key number x .65=low end of target heart rate range, key number x .85=high end of target heart rate range.  While exercising, keep your beats per minute within this range.  When starting an exercise program, keep your heart rate in the lower end of your target range.  As you become more fit, you will want to get your heart rate up into the higher range.  A heart rate monitor can be very helpful.

What is your cholesterol level? There are four numbers that are important.  You want to know your total cholesterol (it should be under 200), your HDLs, which is the good cholesterol (should be 60 or higher), your LDLs, which is the bad cholesterol (should be 100 or less), and your triglycerides (should be 150 or lower).  Exercise can increase your HDLs.

What is your blood pressure? Find out through visiting your doctor, getting a finess assessment, or learning how to take your own blood pressure.  It should be less that 120/80 to be in the healthy range.

What’s your glucose level? A fasting glucose should be 110 or less, at anytime it should be under 140.  This measures the sugar in your blood.  Over time, a high glucose level can damage the organs of your body.  High levels can signify diabetes.

What is your body fat percentage? There are many ways to determine your body fat percentage. It can be done through a medical facility, by a fitness professional, or by purchasing a bathroom scale that measures body fat.  Some tests are more accurate than others.  Recommended for men:  10-25%.  Recommended for women:  18-32%.  A higher body fat level is an indication of being overweight or obese.

What’s your hip/waist ratio? This is an important measurement to determine your risk of disease from the accumulation of visceral fat (abdominal fat surrounding your vital organs), which is considered more dangerous than subvutaneous fat (the fat under your skin).  To find your ratio, measure your waist and hips.  Divide waist measurement by hip measurement.  For men, you want the ratio to be 0.9 or less.  For women, you want it to be .85 or less.  If it is higher than this you are at an above average risk for heart disease.  If it is 1.0 or higher for men and .95 or higher for women, you are at high risk for disease.

Don’t be discouraged if your numbers aren’t where you would like them to be.  You can improve them through diet and exercise.  However, you should check with your doctor first before starting any exercise program.

For your copy of my “Math for Health” form to record your numbers, please visit my website and send me an email.  Be proactive with your health.  Get those numbers!

About the author

Beverly Brewer Karpinski
Beverly Brewer Karpinski
• Owner and director of "Fit to the Core" In-Home Personal Training
• Health and Fitness Inc. Certified Personal Trainer, 2001
• A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, 2004
• Certified Master Fitness by Phone Coach, 2005
• Strength & Conditioning Personal Trainer Certificate, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, AZ, 2008
• Wellness Editor, Puma Press, 2007-2008
• Currently in pursuit of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise & Wellness.
• Fitness Manager & Director, Curves for Women, 2004-2006
• In-Home personal training, 2002-Present
• Personal Trainer, Naturally Women, 2004-2006
• Personal Trainer, Total Woman, 2001-2004
• Core Stability Specialty Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001
• Advanced Biomechanics Training, Health and Fitness, Inc., 2001

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