Ours is a numerically fixated culture, and increasingly so with the passing of each year. Heart rate monitors, pedometers, and calorie counters have become fixtures within the fitness and exercise communities. Elsewhere in the culture, website views and social media “likes” have combined to form an online currency all its own. We track so very much: traffic counts, theater attendance, box office returns (foreign and domestic), employment applications, and on and on.
Internet aggregators allow us to keep eyes on collections of data points, whether they be nationwide film reviews taken from publications large and small from coast to coast, or employment postings scraped nationwide from company websites and monolithic job boards. And the more health conscious among us have taken to tracking the 6 most important numbers to know about your body.
In short, we are accustomed to having at our fingertips mountains of information, and we reflexively look to accumulate more while organizing and contextualizing that which we have already gleaned. And so long as this fixation is so firmly, well, fixed, one may as well understand the 6 most important numbers to know about your body, particularly given the ease with which these numbers can be monitored and retrieved.
Understanding Your Body
Maintaining one’s bodily health is an ongoing process and one which should consist of equal parts nutritional consideration, intensive physical exertion, adequate rest, and routine assessment of the 6 most important numbers to know about your body. Ideally, strict adherence to the first three (nutrition, exercise, and rest) will render the assessing of these numbers a mere formality; however, the assessments will allow for one to implement minor health maintenance adjustments as necessary.
Simply put, one’s blood pressure is the force required to keep blood coursing throughout the body’s circulatory system. This pressure is created by the body’s muscular pumping organ: namely, the heart. Blood pressure, typically taken at the upper arm, measures the maximum over the minimum pressure, or the systolic over the diastolic, and is a good indicator of overall health and vitality.
The pressure reading will vary from individual to individual and will even read differently based upon the time of day at which it is measured. While something close to 120/80 is ideal, what is important is knowing specifically where this number falls on average.
Resting Heart Rate
One’s resting heart rate is a reliable indicator of cardiovascular health and bodily well being. Much like blood pressure, readings will differ from individual to individual and should not be taken too soon after a round of physical exertion. The rate is best taken fairly early in the morning and prior to the eating of a meal. Caffeine and other stimulants will also interfere with a true reading; these should be avoided altogether in the hours preceding a resting heart rate count.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is often referred to as “bad” cholesterol, as opposed to its high-density lipoprotein (HDL) “good” cholesterol counterpart with which it does share a biochemical relationship. Cholesterol levels need not be monitored as closely or as routinely as one’s blood pressure and heart rate, but they should be known all the same. Any levels exceeding 180-190 are considered to be rather high and might warrant considerable changes to one’s diet and lifestyle.
Creatinine levels are measured in order to gauge one’s renal health and functionality. Excessive creatinine in the bloodstream suggests diminished or deteriorating kidney health and may suggest a need to reevaluate a number of dietary predilections. Proper hydration and moderate protein intake are vital to kidney health, and understanding where one’s creatinine levels are at a given time will help one determine the need to pursue these measures in a more consistent capacity.
Weight gain is a hallmark of the aging experience, for some more so than for others. But one should not get caught up in the comparing of one’s own weight to that of another. Body types and genetic predispositions exist across along a broad continuum, which is to say that while 185lbs may be perfectly suitable for a given frame, it may be terribly unrealistic (or unhealthy) for another. Work closely with a health professional or weight management consultant to understand what it is your ideal weight should ultimately be.
Our nation is rife with sugar woes, Type II diabetes operating as the foremost evidence of this unfortunate reality. A healthy fasting blood sugar reading should fall under 125 mg/dL, and consistently so. This is a reading which should be taken at regular intervals by those who are either particularly prone to developing diabetes or by those who wish to maintain healthy levels for their own sake.
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