Body Mass Index (BMI): What’s In a Number?
If you’re looking to lose weight, burn fat or build muscle, here’s a number you should know about: your BMI.
BMI, which stands for body mass index, is a number that’s calculated from a person’s height and weight. For most people, BMI gives a good idea of body fatness. (It’s also a lot easier than measuring body fat directly, like being weighed underwater.)
Why is BMI important?
Doctors use BMI to put people into one of four categories: underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. Mostly, BMI is used to see if the amount of body fat could be harmful to your health.
Being obese or overweight puts you at risk of developing a bunch of conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
So when your doctor calculates your BMI, he or she is looking to see if you need to make some changes in your life to help keep those diseases away.
Is BMI always accurate?
For most people, yes. Heavily-muscled athletes, though, will often show up as overweight or obese because they have so much muscle weight. Also, older people (who have less muscle mass) fall into the normal category, when they are actually carrying a lot of fat.
But BMI is still a quick way to see whether your weight is a health issue. To calculate your BMI, check out the CDC’s BMI calculator.
If you fall into the overweight or obese category, don’t get stressed. Instead, get active. Burning off fat will cause your BMI number to drop, as well.
Don’t get obsessed with BMI, either. It’s just one more measurement (like how you feel and what clothes you can fit into) that shows your exercise progress.
Here is a fantastic video that goes over some of the basics of BMI and what you need to know:
He talks about the history of BMI and its limitations, which are important to know. It’s also useful to have a visual aid because some people learn better that way.
If you aren’t convinced, look at the results from exercise programs, especially fat-burning ones like the Jillian Michaels Body Revolution. When you look at how much weight people lost (if you know how tall they are), you can also figure out how much their BMI changed. Did they go from obese to overweight? Or overweight to normal weight?
If that’s the sort of change you are looking for, you should consider exercise programs like Jillian Michaels. On this site, I have reviewed a number of fat burning exercise programs, including Insanity, P90X, Chalean Extreme and Turbo Fire, Rushfit by Georges St Pierre and the Les Mills Pump.
That’s an incredible variety of workouts and there is most definitely something for everyone there. Plus if you are the type of person who can’t get enough, then the variety will keep you moving from one program to the next.
Need to know where to go next?
Check out the related links in the sidebar, or the workout categories across the top of the page. I also have some incredible value for you if you sign up to my newsletter (see the right side of the page). You’ll get tips like this every few days in your inbox, and you may even get discounts and prizes.