The word “healthy” has many definitions, and there is more to it than just feeling good.

“I define healthy as a state of physical and mental well-being, with a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Lubna Wani, an internal medicine specialist with OU Physicians in Norman. “Good health means not having ­– or adequately controlling – risk factors such as obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.”

“Healthy is a combination of mental and physical states associated with feeling good, and the ability to participate in activities,” adds Dr. Baptiste Shunatona of Omni Medical Group in Tulsa.

“Health varies with age and abilities.”

Weighty Numbers

We all know which numbers reveal the general state of our health – they’re the same numbers your doctor is concerned with during your annual physical, though there is variation due to factors such as age or genetics, healthy ranges are well-established.

An annual physical typically includes a check of your pulse. However, your resting heart rate (RHR) is an important indicator of how fit you are and can be checked at home. This measurement will tell you how hard your heart is working to pump blood through your body.

The best time to check your RHR is after a good night’s sleep, before you get out of bed. To get your resting heart rate, take your pulse for a full minute. It’s a good idea to do this on three different mornings to make sure you’re getting a representative number.

RHR rises with age and is lower in people who are physically fit. In generally healthy people, the heart beats 60 to 80 times per minute.

Body mass index, or BMI, is a more meaningful number than weight. It is the measure of your weight and body fat relative to your height, and the “normal” range is the same for everyone (see sidebar).

“The definition of obesity is a BMI of 30 or greater,” says Shunatona. “This dramatically increases your risk of numerous chronic conditions.”

“Daily caloric intakes of 1,800 to 2,000 (calories) for women and 2,200 to 2,400 (calories) for men are recommended for people with normal BMI,” adds Wani.

Blood Pressure And Cholesterol

According to Wani, a blood pressure of 120/70 is ideal, but there can be extenuating circumstances affecting acceptable levels.

“In some individuals, a higher number might be okay, for example, if the side effects of the treatment outweigh the benefits of lowering blood pressure,” adds Shunatona.

Defining a normal, healthy cholesterol level is more difficult.

“Healthy cholesterol numbers aren’t the same for everyone,” says Wani. “If you’re a healthy 30-year-old, an LDL (bad cholesterol) of less than 130 is good. If you have heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure, it needs to be less than 70. The higher your HDL (good cholesterol), the better chance you have of not developing heart disease.”


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