You may hit the gym or pound the pavement every day. Or, you could be looking for a solid framework upon which to base your goals for weight loss of fitness. Either way, you’re curious about your BMI.
Do you wonder:
- How do I calculate my BMI? (It’s easy to do!)
- What should my BMI be?
- If a normal BMI is the same for kids as it is for adults? Older adults?
Ready to get started on your fitness goals? Read on to learn more about body mass index (BMI) and what it means for your health.
Is There a Norm? What Should My BMI Be?
First things first. Before we begin to talk about what your BMI should be, let’s first look at how your body mass index is calculated.
BMI calculation is actually very simple. You’ll need just two figures – your height in meters and your weight in kilograms. The formula for BMI is kg/m2 .
If you live in a country that doesn’t use the metric system, that’s okay. Just multiply your weight in pounds by .453592. Better yet, find an online calculator to do the work for you. Just put “what should my BMI be” into a Google search bar and about 20 different calculators will come up!
Once you’ve done that math, or have had Google do it for you, you’ll have a number, usually between 18 and 30. That’s your BMI. Is it healthy? Well, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, here’s where the ranges lie.
If your BMI is:
- Under 18.5, you’re underweight
- 18.5 – 24.9, you’re a healthy weight
- 25 – 29.9, you’re overweight
- 30 or higher, you’re considered obese
Is There a Good Age Span of 14 to 60 to Measure By?
We’re so glad you asked! Yes, a healthy BMI can vary depending on your age. Obviously, kids will have a much different BMI than adults will. So let’s look at normal BMI ranges by age.
For adults, it’s easy. Whether you’re 35, 40, 50 or 60 your BMI is calculated in the same way. Some newer calculators account for the sex of the person, but for the most part it’s pretty consistent.
But ask anyone who’s begun to age – your body changes greatly as you get older. With that said, studies have shown that the standard BMI calculator may be unsuitable for adults over 65. In fact, adults of around that age who have a “normal” BMI of around 22 or 23 actually have an increased mortality rate!
If you’re an older adult, have a chat with your doctor. Ask him, “what should my BMI be?” and he or she will probably introduce you to other ways to determine whether you’re of a healthy weight. But if you’re in the 20 to 60 year old crowd, the standard chart works just fine.
What About BMI in Kids? Is There a Normal Range?
For kids under 20 years old, the CDC uses a different range for healthy BMI. This formula takes into account the fact that kids are still growing, and sometimes that growth is unpredictable. It also takes into account the sex of the child.
So, for instance, BMI for a 14-year-old is calculated in the same way as an adult’s, but then it’s expressed in a percentile. Here’s how the percentiles go for young people between the ages of 2 and 20.
If the child is in the:
- Less than 5th percentile, he is underweight
- 5th to 85th percentile, he is in a healthy range
- 85th to just under 95th percentile, he is overweight
- 95th or higher, he is considered obese
Of course, children go through growth spurts, and there’s a lot of wiggle room in there. If you’re concerned about your child, or are a child who’s concerned, schedule a visit with your pediatrician.
Is There a Norm for My Age, Weight and Height?
Your normal BMI is based on a range, yes. And that range has a lot to do with your age, weight and height.
But there are other factors at play. Doctors and researchers warn you to not put full faith in your BMI because how you carry your weight matters, too.
For example, if you carry weight around your midsection, you may be at an increased risk of many diseases. Conversely, if your weight is in your hips, or even your breasts, you may have a higher BMI but not be as susceptible to obesity-related disease.
Can My BMI Value in the Chart Put Me at Risk?
Yes, yes and yes! On both ends of the spectrum, as a matter of fact. If your BMI is in the high ranges, and you’re considered either “overweight” or “obese,” you’re at a higher risk for diseases such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver disease
- Heart disease and heart attack
- Bone and joint disease
On the flip side of that, being underweight can cause trouble for your health, too. If your BMI is too low, you’re at a higher risk for:
- Fertility issues, and missed periods for women
- General malnutrition
Of course, falling into a healthy BMI range doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick, or suffer any of these diseases. But it does go a long way toward keeping you in great health.
Is There a BMI Difference for Males and Females?
Only kind of. You likely already know that men and women carry weight differently. Women tend to gain in their hips, bottoms and thighs, while men will first gain in their midsection.
As you now know, the places on your body where you carry weight can have as much to do with your health as your actual BMI. At present, though, there’s only one BMI calculator and it doesn’t differentiate between men and women.
What Should My BMI Be to Get Abs and for a Six Pack?
You work out, and you want it to show. We get it. You’re wondering, “what should my BMI be if I don’t want any fat to show on my midsection?” But there’s no exact BMI you’ll need to attain to get six pack abs.
Instead of focusing on your BMI, focus on working toward a healthy lifestyle. You don’t need to be a bodybuilder to be in good health. In fact, you may be healthier person if you focus less on bodybuilding.
If you’re bodybuilding, you’re probably already doing a few things right. It’s likely that you’re eating a well-balanced, “clean” diet with plenty of lean meats and fiber. But there are other steps you can take to set you on your way to six pack abs – without worrying “what should my BMI be?”
First, cut back on alcohol. Beer belly is a thing. Secondly, quit smoking. Your workouts will go a much longer way without all those chemicals in your lungs.
Eliminate what stress you can from your life. You’re probably not going to live a stress-free existence, but cutting back on stressors can actually help you lose weight. Stress elevates levels of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is directly linked to weight gain.
And, for goodness sake, get some sleep! Studies show that people who sleep seven hours at night lose 55% more fat than those who don’t. Live right, eat right and get your BMI down to a healthy range. You’ll be well on your way to a six pack.
What Should My BMI Be During Pregnancy? Before Surgery?
First of all, BMI during pregnancy doesn’t count. No doctor worth his salt will ever tell you otherwise. However, your BMI prior to your pregnancy can play a big role in how your pregnancy goes.
A woman who is in a healthy range of BMI prior to conception should gain around 25 to 35 pounds during her pregnancy. A woman who is overweight or underweight prior to pregnancy is at greater risk for complications. Women who don’t have a healthy BMI before they get pregnant may experience:
- Gestational diabetes
- Babies born pre-term
- Miscarriage or stillbirth
- High blood pressure
- Sleep apnea
- Blood clots
Yuck, right? So what about surgery? What should my BMI be before I go into surgery?
It’s a good idea to have a healthy BMI before surgery, too. Studies show that a BMI is a “significant predictor” of mortality in the 30 days following surgery. In other words, if you’ve got a healthy BMI you’re more likely to be alive 30 days later.
What is a Healthy BMI?
What is a healthy BMI? What should my BMI be? Is there a BMI range I should fall into?
Your ideal BMI is best discussed with your physician. Together, you can collaborate on your lifestyle and habits, your activity level, the places on your body where you carry weight and other factors.
Body mass index is a great indicator of your health. But don’t rely solely on the numbers. Keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, and you’re on your way. But be proactive! A healthy lifestyle is the best indicator of your overall well-being.