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BMI, Body Shape and Body Composition, pt. 2 of 3

In my last post of this series, I discussed BMI and its importance as a starting place for measuring your health.  Today, we'll explore Body Shape. 

Keeping track of your health profile is important and ensures that if your health is changing you can stay ahead of it.  A good practice is to weigh yourself weekly, take body measures monthly and see your doctor for a total body check-up yearly. 

Body Shape

Measuring your health profile is complicated and no perfect method exists.  In my last post, we discussed BMI. BMI is a good starting place for measuring health, but Body Measures can pick up where BMI falls short.  Taking your Body Measures, like weight, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio on a regular basis is a good practice for staying on top of your health.  


The shape of your body can tell you if you're at risk for certain medical conditions. People who carry excess weight around the abdomen or stomach (sometimes referred to as "apples") may be at greater risk for developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease[3]. Carrying extra weight around the mid section can also disrupt hormone production, leading to poor sleep and an increased burden on internal organs.

Two tests help determine risk: Waist Circumference and Waist-to-Hip Ratio. 


Waist Circumference: 

Measure around your middle at the iliac crest - you can find this by locating the front of your hip bones at the pointy part of your hips (just a few inches below your belly button). You may be at greater risk for developing the medical conditions shared above if your waist circumference is greater than:
- Men: 40 inches
- Women 35 inches 

Waist-to-Hip Ratio: 

Measure around your waist at your belly button, then measure around your hips at the widest part. Divide your waist size by your hip size. You may be at greater risk for developing the medical conditions shared above if your waist-to-hip ratio is greater than:
- Men: 0.9-1.0
- Women: 0.8-0.9


  • Learn about Body Composition in part 3 of this series.
  • See a Wellness Coach



​Our fantastic team of Wellness Coaches can support you in setting healthy living goals. They'll introduce you to fitness equipment and show you how to use it, talk to you about available group exercise classes and explain the benefits of our many healthy living programs.  They can also help you take your body measurements. 

As a Y member, you have access to all YMCAs in San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties, including our Wellness Coaching team. Make a wellness appointment today!



  1. Prospective Studies Collaboration (2009). "Body-mass index and cause-specific mortality in 900000 adults: collaborative analyses of 57 prospective studies"Lancet373 (9669): 1083–96. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60318-4PMC 2662372
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Assessing Your Weight - Healthy Weight." 
  3. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "Assess your weight."
  4. ACE Fit Share. "What are the guidelines for percentage of body fat loss?"
  5. The Daily Burn. "The 5 Best Ways to Measure Body Fat Percentage."