BMI, which stands for body mass index, is a way to estimate your body-fat percentage. To find your BMI, you put your height and weight into a mathematical equation. Personal trainers and health professionals will use a woman’s BMI as a way to monitor for possible health risks due to unsafe body composition levels. While BMI is easy to calculate, there are some limitations to the equation and some more accurate ways to find your body-fat percentage.
To find your body mass index, first determine your current height in inches and body weight in pounds. Then, plug your values into the equation, [(weight in pounds) / (height in inches squared)] X 703. For example, if you currently weigh 150 pounds and are 60 inches tall, your equation would look like (150 / 60 X 60) X 703, and your BMI would be 29.29.
Healthy BMI for Women
Women who are over 20 years old can use their BMI values to determine where their BMI lands on the standard weight chart. An 18.5 or less BMI would mean you’re underweight. If your BMI lands in between 18.5 and 24.9, you would be considered to be of a normal weight. BMIs that fall between 25 and 29.9 would mean that you’re considered overweight, and a BMI at 30 or above would mean that you’re considered obese.
While women typically have a higher body-fat percentage than men, women who fall in the overweight or obese weight categories are at a higher risk of health conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, overweight and obese women have a greater chance of suffering from hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Even a 5 to 10 percent weight loss can lower the risk of these obesity-related disease, notes the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
While body mass index is easy and cheap to calculate, it’s not the most accurate way to find your body-fat percentage. BMI uses your body weight but doesn’t take into account whether your body weight consists of fat or lean tissue like muscle. Because of this, you could really possess a healthy percentage of body fat but still fall within the overweight and obese categories if you’re carrying a higher percentage of muscle tissue. More accurate ways to determine your body fat percentage include going to a health professional to undergo a skinfold measurement test, which involves using a skin caliper and pinching the body fat at certain areas of your body, or underwater weighing, which includes submerging underwater and measuring how much water your body displaces.
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.