Healthful Fit Facts

I have compiled a list of important Healthful Fit Facts  to strive for as you get fit, stay fit and enjoy it.

Exercise:    30 min. a day 
This number is based on the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans put out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. You can find a copy of the guidelines on the homepage. However, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that for women to maintain a healthy weight, they need to exercise 60 minutes a day. Since many women already find it difficult to squeeze in 30 min. a day of physical activity,  many fitness professionals are sticking with recommending 30min. a day. Here's a good article that addresses this issue, as follows:

Specifically your exercise week should include the following:
Cardio                         3-5 days per week
Strength Training     2-3 days per week
Flexibility Training   2-3 days per week

Why it matters: Exercise — even if it’s dancing to your favorite tunes, or cleaning the house — helps keep weight and blood pressure in check, lowering your risk for disease. 

BMI:  Under 25 

Why it matters: Active women whose BMI (a measure of body fat) falls between 18.5 and 22.9 may be 2.5 times more likely to age free of disease than overweight, sedentary women. Excess body fat contributes to an array of medical conditions/diseases. A BMI below 23 is best, but less than 25 is good. Talk with your doctor what your BMI number means for you, because using BMI as a health indicator has some limitations. For instance, it does not differentiate between someone who is overweight and who is a body builder (has a ton of muscle), and it does not take into account body type (how that fat is distributed)- apple or pear shape. Here's a couple good links. One is an article that addresses the limitations of BMI, just so you know how to use this calculation to best address your own health. The other is a BMI calculator.  

Waste Circumference:   Less than 35in.

Why it matters: Having a middle less than 37.7 inches around cut women’s mortality risk by 23 percent compared with larger waistlines. Less than 35 inches is optimal. Here is an excerpt (find the full article by clicking the link below) from the New York Times well blog written by TARA PARKER-POPE , as follows:  

Studies suggest that health risks begin to increase when a woman’s waist reaches 31.5 inches, and her risk jumps substantially once her waist expands to 35 inches or more. For a man, risk starts to climb at 37 inches, but it becomes a bigger worry once his waist reaches or exceeds 40 inches.

Last month, The International Journal of Obesity suggested that, particularly for young people, the waist-to-height ratio might be a better indicator of overall health risks. Put simply, your waist should be less than half your height.

Total Cholesterol Level:  Less than 200 mg/dl 

Why it matters: 240 mg/dl and your risk for many diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes to name a few is twice that of someone with levels below 200. Keep your your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in check as well: Above 160 is high and has been linked to increased rates of stroke and heart disease. Knowing your numbers (at every age and stage) is an important part of keeping your heart-healthy. It can help you and your doctor know your risks and mark the progress you're making toward a healthier you. Check out this link to the Go Red for Women, Know your Numbers cholesterol chart, as follows:

Fiber Intake:   25g per day 
Why it matters: For every 10 grams of fiber you add to your diet, you cut your risk for coronary death by 17 percent, according to a report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  Dietary fiber — found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes — is probably best known for its ability to prevent or relieve constipation. But fiber can provide other health benefits as well, such as lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease (Source: Mayo Clinic). Learn more at

Sugar Intake:   100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar

Why it matters: Many people consume more sugar than they realize. It’s important to be aware of how much sugar you consume because our bodies don’t need sugar to function properly. Added sugars contribute zero nutrients, but many added calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health and increasing risks for certain types of 

Sleep:   7 to 8 hours per night  

Why it matters: Sleeping fewer than six hours a night may cause you to be 12 percent more likely to die earlier than if you logged six to eight. Getting less than seven hours disrupts hunger-regulating hormones, causing weight gain and related concerns. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of eight hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without sleepiness or drowsiness after as little as six hours of sleep. Others can't perform at their peak unless they've slept ten hours. And, contrary to common myth, the need for sleep doesn't decline with age but the ability to sleep for six to eight hours at one time may be reduced. (Van Dongen & Dinges, Principles & Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2000). Learn more:

Blood Pressure:   Under 120/80 mm/HG 

Why it matters: Anything between 120/80 and 139/89 indicates prehypertension, which can often be reversed by adopting stress and weight-management habits. A number above 140/90 signifies full-fledged hypertension, at which point you should be talking to your doctor about regular monitoring. High blood pressure is dangerous because it makes the heart work too hard. It also makes the walls of the arteries hard. High blood pressure increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first- and third-leading causes of death for Americans. 

Alcohol Intake:   1 per day

Why it matters: Moderate alcohol intake has been shown to lower heart disease risk by reducing plaque buildup in arteries. But too much consumption has been linked to breast cancer and has other awful consequences. Play it safe and stick to one a day (a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1.5 ounces of liquor). Research has suggested that specifically red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. The cardioprotective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes. Learn more at 

Smoking:   Don't do it!

Why it matters: Cigarettes are the number-one preventable cause of mortality in the United States, responsible for one fifth of deaths annually. Smoking can lead to cancer, diabetes and lung disease — and did you know it also adds years to your looks? Also, think of what exposing others to second-hand smoke (a known human carcinogen) does:
  • An estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease in non-smokers who live with smokers
  • About 3,400 lung cancer deaths in non-smoking adults
  • Other breathing problems in non-smokers, including coughing, mucus, chest discomfort, and reduced lung function
  • 50,000 to 300,000 lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis) in children younger than 18 months of age, which result in 7,500 to 15,000 hospitalizations annually
  • Increases in the number and severity of asthma attacks in about 200,000 to 1 million children who have asthma
  • More than 750,000 middle ear infections in children
  • Pregnant women exposed to secondhand smoke are also at increased risk of having low birth- weight babies.

Kick the habit today! You can get help at

Sources for this compilation are, as follows:
  • 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
  • American Heart Association
  • WebMD
  • NIH
  • Health And Human Services