You should. It can tell you a lot about your risk for cardiovascular disease. Many of us are slaves to the scale. Be a slave to your measuring tape instead. It holds more valuable information for you. Now, full disclosure: I own a scale, and yes, I hop on it from time to time. So I get why you weight yourself, I really do. Instant feedback. Problem is, sometimes that feedback doesn’t tell you the whole story. Waist/hip ratio (WHR) adds another dimension to the story.
I’m challenging you to pull out your measuring tape and check your waist and hips. I ask all my Bay Area personal training clients and bootcampers to do this when they start with me. Here’s why:
There is a direct correlation between your waist/hip ratio and your risk for Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. It’s been shown in many research studies that “gut” fat is much more dangerous to our health and longevity than stored fat in the thighs or butt. If you’re an “apple” with narrow hips and a bigger belly, you’re at much greater risk for cardiovascular disease than a person who is a “pear” with heavier hips and thighs.
Where our stored fat goes on our body is largely genetic. How much fat is there is largely up to YOU.
So, here’s what you do: Grab a flexible measuring tape and measure your waist at it’s smallest part (or about 1/2 inch above your navel if you can’t find a smallest part!), and your hips at their widest part. Divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.
Women’s WHR should be .75 or below (some references will say .80). Men’s should be .90 or below.
You can’t change your genetic predisposition as to where your body deposits excess calories (read: body fat), but you CAN change your girth measurements. If you’re an “apple”, you’ll always be an apple, but if your WHR is too high for your gender, do something about it to become a smaller apple. You’ll decrease your risk for a heart attack–at you’re gonna look better, too.
Research shows that exercise (especially strength training) can help mobilize fat from the abdominal region. So get out there and start lifting some weights and compliment it with high intensity interval training.
Yours in fitness,