What is Body Mass Index...

and why is it important to your heart health?

You've probably heard the term body mass index (or BMI for short). It has become a common term in the health care field. Why is this important to you?

To start, here is a brief explanation of what BMI means.

Simply put, it is a measure of someone's weight relative to his or her height. The actual formula (for those who care!) is the individual's body weight divided by the square of their height.

Fortunately, you don't have to do the math! This is a common measure. Standard charts have been created that show your BMI score as long as you know your height and weight. The charts also show the "healthy" range, overweight, and obese ranges.

Use the chart below to determine your BMI.

What is your BMI score? If you're not in the healthy range, perhaps you should discuss the score with your doctor.

Note that Body Mass Index scores are a rough measure... they are only a guide. For example, BMI scores do not take into account a person's body frame and muscularity. Highly muscled athletes may actually be in the overweight or obese range given that muscle weighs more than fat.

Nevertheless, BMI scores are considered a reasonable indication, if not an absolute measure, of whether a person is "underweight", "healthy", "overweight" or "obese".

Depending on your BMI score, you might want take advantage of some of the resources on this website to lose weight, begin an exercise program ... even something as simple as a walking program can made HUGE difference. And you should combine that with a change in your eating to introduce a more heart healthy diet into your life. In fact, studies show that proper nutrition has a greater impact on weight loss than exercise.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before engaging in an exercise program or changing to your diet.

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