Know your numbers

2 minutes
Physical

Health is a numbers game; the number on the scales, the number of hours of sleep you get each night, the number on the blood pressure monitor, and more.

These numbers help paint a picture of your overall health, so we’ve made a list of health characteristics you need to be measuring. If you’re not sure how you fare, it’s time to get out the scales and visit the doctor. What are you doing right, and where do you need to improve?

 

Find out your numbers and see how you fare:

Waist circumference

The risk: Musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension to name a few.

The number: A measurement of more than 94cm for men and 80cm for women is dangerous (ShapeUp.gov.au).

The stat: 60% of men and 67% of women are moderate to high risk.

The solution: Strive to meet the Department of Health’s physical guidelines and dietary guidelines and you will make gradual improvements. Visit your GP for more personal advice.

 

Weight & BMI

The risk: Musculoskeletal problems, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, sleep apnoea, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension to name a few.

The numbers: BMI of 25 or more is defined as overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more is defined as obese.

The stat: 63 percent of adult Australians are overweight and rates are climbing faster than anywhere else in the world.

The solution: Strive to meet the Department of Health’s physical guidelines and dietary guidelines and you will make gradual improvements. Visit your GP for more personal advice.

 

Blood pressure

The risk: Stroke, heart disease and heart failure, and even eye and kidney damage.

The number: There is no 'ideal' blood pressure reading, but if you have a "high–normal" blood pressure (between 120/80 and 140/90) it is recommended to get regular check-ups at a doctor (Better Health Victoria).

The stat: 32% of Australians have high blood pressure (Heart Foundation).

The solution: Strive to meet the Department of Health’s physical guidelines and dietary guidelines and you will make gradual improvements. Visit your GP for more personal advice.

 

Cholesterol

The risk: Heart disease.

The number: Cholesterol levels should be no higher than 5.5 mmol per litre, assuming there are no other risk factors present (Better Health Victoria).

The stat: 52% of Australians have moderate-to-high risk levels of cholesterol (Better Health Victoria).

The solution: Strive to meet the Department of Health’s physical guidelines and you will make gradual improvements. Visit your GP for more personal advice.

 

Blood sugar

The risk: Type 2 diabetes (this is the most common form, affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes).

The number: Normal blood glucose levels are between 4.0–7.8mmol/L (Diabetes Australia).

The stat: Almost 1.1 million Australians currently have diagnosed diabetes, and over 100,000 Australians have developed it in the past year.

The solution: Strive to meet the Department of Health’s physical guidelines and dietary guidelines and you will make gradual improvements. Visit your GP for more personal advice.

 

Sleep

The risk: Lack of sleep leads to heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, weight gain, and diabetes.

The numbers: You need at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep—it varies according to the individual.

The stat: 20-35% of Australians don't sleep enough, to a moderate-to-high level.

The solution: Get motivated to sleep more by watching some TED talks, block blue light in the evenings to help you sleep, and make your bedroom sleep-friendly with tips from an interior designer.

 

Mental health

The risk: Anxiety and depression are far more common than we think—fortunately, there is an ever-increasing amount of support available if you need it.

The numbers: Complete the Beyond Blue anxiety and depression checklist (k10) 

The stat: In Australia, it is estimated that 45 percent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

The solution: GPs and mental health professionals are valuable, as our loved ones. Websites including Beyond Blue, The Black Dog Institute and Headspace are all very informative.

 

Sun exposure

The risk: While most skin cancers don’t prove fatal, some do, so regularly check your skin because early detection can save your life.

The numbers: You want no skin cancers at all! Look for crusty, non-healing sores; small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour new spots, freckles; moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (Cancer Council).

The stat: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia—GPs hold over 1 million skin-cancer consultations every year (Cancer Council).

The solution: Slip, slop, slap. Examine your own body—any unusual mole, lump or patch that is painful, non-healing and changes colour or size might be a problem. If you find anything suspicious, your next port of call is the GP or dermatologist.

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