Health trolls have been bringing up BMI as the end-all-be-all defining factor of health since BMI first entered our vocabulary. And while scientists and doctors alike have been trying to move away from using the nearly 200-year old method, it's still all over our doctor's offices and taught in schools. What gives?
Instead of relying on an arbitrary two-digit number, consider these way more accurate markers of health instead.
Blood pressure is important because it's a direct link to you heart health, according to Mayo Clinic. The two numbers your doctor tells you after a blood pressure reading are hardly arbitrary: If they're too high, you're putting a ton of extra strain on your heart and arteries, which can eventually lead to a clot. Clots can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and a whole bevy of other problems.
If you're going to obsess over any number on your body, let it be blood pressure, not BMI.
High cholesterol levels don't depend on your weight, size, shape, or BMI — they can be dangerous regardless of how much you weigh. According to Healthline, bad cholesterol, otherwise known as LDL, can lead to hardened arteries, narrowed blood vessels, and plaque accumulation.
The full glasses of water you drink a day
Needing to drink eight glasses of water is a total myth. The amount of water you should be chugging each day heavily depends on your personal activity level, the climate you live in, and a bevy of other factors. Additionally, according to WebMD, unlike coffee, wine, or soda (duh), water helps energize muscles, maintain bodily fluids, and keeps your bowels doing their thing.
One of the best ways to check if you're drinking enough water is to check your pee: If it's a very light yellow, you're hydrated. If it's anything darker than that, or veering into orange territory, you're dehydrated AF.
The amount of physical activity you do
If you're not a fan of hitting the gym, that's no problem. Physical activity can be something as low-key as a long walk, yoga, or doing heavy-duty chores. Basically, anything that forces you to break a sweat is good enough, according to Mayo Clinic. Even walking up the stairs instead of taking the escalator is a push!
Additionally, working out doesn't have to be for the purpose of losing weight or "getting in shape" — rather, it's to maintain your bones, your heart health, and reducing your risk for a slew of health issues. Whatever your motivation is for going for that jog or practicing your downward dog, whatever you're able to do or are interested in trying, try!
The amount of hours you sleep
Fun fact: according to The Guardian, less sleep means a shorter life. Really.
But seriously, sleep is the time our body needs to build muscle, repair tissue, and solidify memories, according the National Sleep Foundation. If you're constantly sleep deprived, you increase your risk of diabetes and cancer. You are also more likely to get sick, get into an accident (ever tried driving to work in the morning after partying until sunrise?), and your sex drive diminishes.
Now, get in bed.
Your mental health
While there's no real number to attach to something like anxiety or depression, your mental health is just as important as your physical. Whether your preferred method of keeping your mind in check is through therapy, medication, exercise, self-care, or spending time with friends and family, making sure that you're OK (or working toward being OK) is far more important than a random number on a BMI chart.
Bye bye, BMI.
Can't say we'll miss you.