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Taking the 5th – Vital Signs

Taking the 5th – Vital Signs
Taking the 5th – Vital Signs
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Traditionally there are four vital signs and if they are out of whack, you’re in trouble.   When assessing anyone, doctors look for the following to be within acceptable ranges: body temperature, pulse rate, respiratory rate (rate of breathing) and although not technically a vital sign, blood pressure as it is often measured along with the others.

The concept of a 5th vital sign has made its way into modern medicine.  It’s not a “vital” that can be measured in the moment like body temperature or pulse rate, and it’s not a sign of immediate trouble, but could affect your health adversely down the road.   What is this mystery 5th vital sign?  It’s your weight, and it’s much more important than you may think.

Being overweight isn’t generally an immediate threat to your health.  But long-term obesity has serious consequences. The sooner you get a weight issue under control, the less likely it will affect your health long term.

Studies show a strong link between weighing ourselves routinely and maintaining a healthy weight.  So getting in the habit of taking a peek at the scale can really benefit you in the long run.

It’s also helpful to know a few things about body weight.  First, understand that your weight fluctuates during the day and during the week.  It can vary between two to four pounds on the same day.  Your exact weight depends on how much you’ve had to eat or drink and – you guessed it – whether you’ve pooped or not.

Best tips for getting an accurate weight:

–       Weigh yourself at least once a week, first thing in the morning, with as few clothes on as possible and always on the same scale.

–       The best single day to weigh is Wednesday. Why is “hump day” preferred?  You’ve recovered from the possible over-indulgence of the prior weekend and there’s time to make adjustments for the upcoming weekend.

But remember – up or down a few pounds doesn’t really matter that much.  What is “vital” is maintaining a reasonable weight and fitting a bit of exercise into your day.

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