Healthy Lifestyles​

Having a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of good health across the lifespan. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight includes healthy eating, physical activity, optimal sleep, and stress reduction. Several other factors may also affect weight gain. Managing weight contributes to good health across the lifespan. Compared to those with a healthy weight, people who are overweight or obese are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions.

Healthy eating features a variety of healthy foods. Fad diets may promise fast results, but such diets limit nutritional intake, can be unhealthy, and tend to fail in the long run. Recommended physical activity goals for different people depend partly on whether they are trying to maintain weight or lose weight. Walking is often a good way to add more physical activity.

There are many benefits to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including eating healthy and regular physical activity.

Benefits of healthy eating include:

  • Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Supports muscles and strengthens bones.
  • Boosts immunity.
  • Lowers risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers.
  • Supports healthy pregnancies and breastfeeding.
  • Helps the digestive system function.​
Benefits of physical activity include:
  • Helps achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
  • Lowers risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, and some cancers.
  • Improves mood, strengthens brain function, and reduces pain.
  • Improves daily life by making it easier to do everyday tasks and keep up with loved ones. 

Obesity and Body Mass Index (BMI)

O​besity is a chronic disease that is on the rise both in children and adults in the United States. Poor or unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity are two main contributing factors to obesity. According to the 2019 Maryland Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, only 52 percent of Maryland adults engage in 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, and 2020 data shows that 66.5 percent of Marylanders over the age of 18 years are considered overweight or obese. Obesity is a precursor for other chronic diseases such as prediabetes/diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. Interventions that support improved food and nutrition access as well as improved physical activity have proven to improve the health of populations.

Body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool to measure weight in relation to potential disease risk. BMI uses weight and height to determine a score of a healthy weight.

BMI Weight Categories​

    • ​​BMI less than 18.5 (underweight range).
    • BMI 18.5 to 24.9 (normal or healthy weight range).
    • BMI 25.0 to 29.9 (overweight range).
    • BMI 30.0 or higher (obese range).​

Waist Circumference 

Waistline measurements can be a guide to show if you may be at risk for developing obesity-related diseases. A higher waist circumference is associated with high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Below is the screening criteria to determine risk based on waist circumference measurement:

    • Men: waist circumference more than 40 inches.
    • Women: non-pregnant waist circumference more than 35 inches.

Note: BMI and waist circumference are not diagnostic tools for disease risks. A trained healthcare provider should perform other health assessments to evaluate disease risk and diagnose disease status.​