When it comes to understanding your health, your actual weight isn’t nearly as important as you think it is.
The amount of muscle and fat, your height, your body type — there are tons of factors that affect your weight. Weighing 160 pounds may be healthy for someone who is 5′ 9″. At the same time, a 5′ 2″ person who weighs the same amount could be overweight.
The good news is, there is a way more reliable, accurate way to determine when you are a healthy weight. By using a formula to calculate BMI, you’ll get a much better picture of your weight and your health.
So what is BMI, how do you calculate it, and why does it matter? In this article, we’ll answer the big questions about BMI.
What is BMI and Why is it Important?
The term “BMI” gets thrown around a lot in the health world, so you’ve probably heard it before. It stands for “Body Mass Index.”
Basically, it is a way of understanding your body weight. It is more scientific and useful than simply using a scale.
You use a mathematical formula to calculate BMI based on your weight and height. Based on the outcome of this formula, you can classify your weight. This classification puts you into a category, which gives you valuable information about your relative health.
These categories range from the extremely thin to the extremely obese. The further that someone is from the “normal range,” the more likely they are to have health problems related to their weight. This is true whether they are too thin or too heavy.
This is more accurate and useful than other methods for talking about weight and health. Someone who looks overweight may actually have a healthy BMI, and someone who looks healthy may actually be over or underweight according to their BMI.
Because it is a mathematical method, it takes the some of the guesswork out of weight and health.
Weight is a major factor in your overall health. We’ve talked before about the connections between weight and chronic diseases. Knowing your BMI category can help you keep your health under control.
Who Can Use The Formula to Calculate BMI?
The BMI formula is useful for most people, but there are some that it won’t work for.
If you are under 3 feet tall, or taller than 6’11”, unfortunately, the BMI formula won’t be accurate.
Plus, it is only for people over the age of 18. For children, height and weight don’t always increase at the same rates — but this doesn’t mean they are unhealthy. Because of this, using the BMI index for children isn’t accurate.
Otherwise, the same formula to calculate BMI applies whether you are male or female, young or old.
How to Calculate Your BMI
For something so important to understanding your health, calculating your BMI is surprisingly simple.
All you need to know to start is your height and weight. Normally, BMI is calculated using kilograms and centimeters. However, if you measure your weight and height using pounds and inches, it is easy to convert.
Written out, the formula looks like this: (lbs x 0.45) ÷ (inches x 0.025)²
That may look a bit complicated, but don’t worry. We will break it down!
Our formula to calculate BMI assumes that you are using pounds. If you use kilograms, you can skip the first step.
1. Convert Your Weight and Height To Metric Measurements
To find out your weight in kilograms, multiply it by 0.45.
To determine your height, you need to multiply your height in inches by 0.025.
For example, if you weigh 120 pounds and 5’5” (or 65 inches), you would write the formula like this:
120 x 0.45 = 54kg
65 x 0.025 = 1.625m
Now that you have your height and weight in metric measurements, we can move on to the next part of the formula.
2. Square Your Height in Metres
Next, you need to square your weight, or multiply it by itself.
To continue from our example in step one, here is how it should look:
1.625² = 2.640625
Or, you can think about it like this: 1.625 x 1.625 = 2.640625
3. Divide Your Weight By Your Squared Height
Take your weight in kilograms from step 1, and the answer you got in step 2. You now need to divide your weight by this number to get your BMI.
54 ÷ 2.640625 = 20.5
If you’ve been doing the math along with us, you probably got a much longer string of digits on the end of your answer. We’ve rounded to the first decimal place.
So, in this example, the person’s BMI would be 20.5.
Using BMI to Determine Health
The BMI number that you just calculated can now be used to place yourself into a health category.
Generally, a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. BMIs within this range have the lowest health risks.
Anything less than 18.5 suggests you are underweight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 indicates being overweight. Anything 30 and above indicates obesity or even extreme obesity.
The further your BMI is from the so-called “normal” range, the more likely you are to experience health problems related to your weight.
Getting to a Healthy BMI
If the formula to calculate BMI showed that you are outside of the normal range, it may be time to consider lifestyle changes to get a healthier BMI.
One of the most important ways you can healthily change your BMI and lose weight is through your diet. In fact, this may be more important than exercise.
Making healthy diet changes that last can help you lose weight and reap the health benefits.
Of course, it is also important to talk to a doctor about the results of your BMI calculation and what the best steps are for you.
We’ve shown how important it is to know your BMI. It can provide you with useful information about how healthy your weight is for your unique body.
Now that you know your BMI, you can make informed choices about weight loss. By categorizing yourself according to your BMI, you are more knowledgeable about whether your weight could be affecting your health.
If you are looking to lose weight and get into the healthy range for BMI, there are ways to get help. Find a ChiroThin doctor near you who can help you create a weight loss plan and supervise you while you achieve your health goals.