We all have our own reasons for starting or continuing on a fitness journey, but what we all have in common, is wanting to be healthier and live longer. We want to have the energy and ability to do the things we love, for as long as we can, so we try our best to exercise and eat healthy. There are many different markers of health, including body composition. This is a key component of health and physical fitness, as we know that being overweight or obese increases the chance of developing serious health problems that can reduce quality of life and even life expectancy.

While we do need some body fat to function, not all fat is created equal! The most dangerous kind is visceral fat, which is stored in your abdomen around vital organs like your liver, stomach, pancreas, and intestines. This is considered “active fat” because it can actively increase your risk of serious health problems such as heart attack, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, certain types of cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease. The only way to definitively measure the amount of visceral fat you have stored is CT and MRI scans, but those can be expensive and difficult to access, so fortunately there is another way to get an idea of your fat distribution. By taking some basic measurements you can determine your body composition through combining your BMI and waist circumference.

BMI (Body Mass Index) is commonly used to give an estimate of a person’s body composition and identify those at risk for obesity-related diseases. BMI is a calculation that compares your weight to your height – it is the ratio of body weight (in kilograms) to the square of your height (in centimetres) – and the resulting number places you in a category from underweight to obese. While BMI gives us a rough estimate of body fatness, we can get a more accurate measure if we combine this with waist circumference. While belly fat isn’t necessarily visceral fat – it could be subcutaneous fat – measuring around a person’s waist gives us a better idea of their risk of developing health complications related to excess visceral fat. Carrying excess weight around your middle is more dangerous than on your hips and thighs, so using the waist circumference measurement in conjunction with BMI predicts health risks better than BMI alone.

You should aim for a BMI of under 25.   If you would like to know what your current BMI number is, use this link: https://bmicalculatorcanada.com/

And the waist circumference numbers of note are:  88 cm for women and 102 cm for men.  A waist circumference above these numbers means you have an increased risk of poor health.

Fortunately, visceral fat is extremely receptive to exercise, diet, and other lifestyle changes. So, by making some simple adjustments to your daily habits, you can reduce your risk of serious problems and extend your life expectancy. If you’re having trouble making these changes, Active Health Solutions can help! For increasing your exercise, try one of our group fitness classes or personal training, and for other areas like nutrition and building healthier habits, come to a Health Seminar or book private health coaching with Ann.


– Bryn