Simple Measurements for Health in Retirement

November 21, 2008

Some simple measurements for health in retirement include BMI, Waist size, Body Shape, Waist to Hip Ratio and Waist to Height Ratio.  The beauty of these measurements is that you can do them all yourself – all you need is a scale, a tape measure and a mirror!

BMI: This is your Body Mass Index – a measure of whether your weight is too little, too much or just right for someone of your height.

The formula for calculating it is: (your weight in pounds times 703) divided by (your height in inches, squared).  If you prefer to have it calculated for you, you can go to:

This site will also provide guidance about what might be your “ideal” weight.

Generally, a BMI:

  • under 18.5 is considered “underweight;”
  • 18.5 – 24.9 is “normal” or “healthy;”
  • 25 – 25.9 is “overweight:”
  • over 30 is “obese.”

BMI is generally considered a helpful tool with respect to whether someone is over or under a healthy weight.  Since about two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, a BMI over 25 can wave a useful flag indicating that attention and action are needed.  Being significantly overweight leads to a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some cancers, osteoarthritis and emotional problems.

Useful as BMI is, there appear to be some even simpler and more useful measures.  These look not so much at how much weight do you have but WHERE you have it.  Having too much fat around your middle is associated with increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and high cholesterol which can lead to increased risk of heart attacks and stroke.  So, get naked and look at yourself in the mirror…

Apple or Pear?

Which do you most resemble?  Most of us store fat in one of two ways: around our hips and thighs or around our middle.  Storage around the middle = apple shape; hips and thighs storage = pear shape.  It is it is better to be a pear.  Storing fat around our middle increase the risk for diabetes and heart attacks.

Waist Size

Measure your waist with a tape measure (don’t pull it too tight – you want the truth don’t you?).  A waist greater than 32 inches for women and 37 inches for men begins to reflect an increase in risk for cardiovascular disease.  Risk increases substantially for women with waists over 35 inches and men with waists over 40 inches.

Waist to Hip Ratio

Measure your waist at it narrowest point.  Measure your hips at their widest point.  Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.  For example: if your waist measurement is 38 inches and your hips are 44 inches, your waist to hip ratio is .86.  If you are a man, you want your ratio to be less than 1.0; if you are a woman, you want your ratio to be less than .8.  If your ratio exceeds these numbers, your are an APPLE!

Waist to Height

This is very simple: The size of your waist should be less than half your height.

Of course there are many exceptions to much of the above: young people, old people, sumo wrestlers, very short people, very tall people, professional athletes.  But the word to the wise is: “attentive.”  Be attentive to your weight and shape.  It could make the difference in your health in retirement (and earlier).

R. Kevin Price

© 2008-2009 R.K. Price


What is “Successful Retirement?”

November 13, 2008

Given that we are all unique, the nature of “success” in retirement will be different for each of us in terms of specifics.  And, given increasing lifespans, and the changes that come with shifting financial and physical resources, our perspective will probably evolve over time. However, there are five common factors that affect just about everyone’s view of whether his or her retirement is satisfying and fulfilling.

1. Staying Engaged With Life – People who study successful aging and retirement tell us that using our minds and bodies, and interacting with others are keys to a happy and healthy retirement life.  Good genes and money help of course, but we can’t pick our ancestors and our financial situation is whatever we have made it. The focus of The Successful Retirement Guide is to assist you in identifying activities that will help you remain engaged intellectually, socially and physically.

2. Positive Attitude – Retirement brings many changes and we need to be able to adjust to them and control them to the extent to which we are able. Beyond the transition from full-time employment, over time there will likely be changes in finances, health, relationships, housing and other aspects of life. A positive attitude can help us take advantage of opportunities and “roll with the punches” if need be. We can support a positive attitude by planning what we are going to accomplish in retirement and not just letting things happen to us. Your work life brought you opportunities for accomplishment, status, productivity, structure and companionship. Developing activities in retirement to keep you engaged in a similar fashion will help support your sense of purpose and positive attitude.

3. Healthy Mind and Body – There are hundreds of activities to help us keep our minds and bodies sound and supportive of an engaged lifestyle. We are what we do. If we simply “veg out” that’s what we will turn into. Successful retirees strive to live each day to the fullest, exercise their minds and bodies and challenge themselves to continue to learn and grow personally. The Successful Retirement Guide can help you identify activities that are right for you.

4. Supportive Social and Family Network – While the extent of desire to be with others will vary by individual, the sharing of our lives and experiences is a basic human need. While you were working you had a “built-in” social network in the workplace. In retirement, most of us still have friends and family that were not associated with the workplace, but we may need to supplement these groups with new friends and acquaintances. There are many ways to do this, e.g., by taking classes, part-time work, volunteering, associations and the like. And it remains important to find ways to nurture and celebrate the relationships you already have in place.

5. Financial Comfort – Financial comfort means that the lifestyle you choose to live can be accomplished with the financial resources available to you. If financial comfort does not exist you need to adjust either your lifestyle or your resources. If you don’t make an adjustment when one is needed, the result will be stress which is one of the great destroyers of successful retirements. The Successful Retirement Guide does not give financial advice but it can help you identify activities to keep you intellectually, socially and physically engaged with life whatever your financial resources.

R. Kevin Price, 2008

© 2008-2009 R.K. Price