Whether you're trying to lose weight or you're looking at indicators of your overall health, taking your measurements can be a helpful thing to do. According to the Australian government, if a woman's waist measurement is more than 80 centimeters -- or about 31.5 inches -- it can be an indicator of excess fatty deposits on the internal organs. It can also be a risk factor for diabetes, some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Tracking your other measurements, meanwhile, can help you monitor your progress in an exercise or weight-loss program. To prepare for the measurements, put on a sports bra and wear a thin, single-layer pair of shorts or underwear.
Place the tape measure on your belly button and wrap it around your abdomen, keeping the tape measure parallel to the body all the way around. Write down the measurement in inches. This is your abdominal measurement, not your waist.
Place the tape measure at the narrowest portion of the waist, starting on the right side of the body where the waist meets the hip. Wrap the tape measure around the body and then write down the measurement in inches. This is your waist measurement -- the one that can be an indicator of chronic disease above 31.5 inches for women.
Locate the widest portion of your hips. For some women, this may be at the top end of your gluteal fold -- or the "crack" of your buttocks. Place the tape measure at the widest point on the hips and then wrap it around the hips, keeping the tape measure on the same plane all the way around. Write down the hip measurement in inches.
Place the tape measure on the nipple portion of one breast, and then wrap the tape measure around the body, joining the tape measure at the beginning nipple. Write down your bust measurement in inches.
Locate the widest portion of your thigh, and then wrap the tape measure around the thigh at that widest point. Write down the thigh measurement in inches.
Keep a chart that has a column for each of the five measurements you've just measured. Measure yourself every few months -- or more often while engaged in an exercise program -- to monitor your fitness progress.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.