Major health parameters – recognising wellbeing indicators

Getting into the habit of eating a balanced diet and exercising will certainly help improve your quality of life, promote health, prevent diseases and maintain a healthy weight.

Assessing an individual's state of health requires more than just knowing their weight, however, as there are several other parameters which together measure how well the body is functioning. Let's take a look at them.

woman fitness and balance

Body Composition

Body composition divides the body into its two constituent masses:

  • lean mass – all elements that are free of fat, such as bones, muscles, viscera, water, organs and blood;
  • fat mass – all extractable fats from adipose tissue and other tissues/organs
laica's zero waste cookbook

Percentage of fat mass

The fat percentage shown in the table below represents total fat, which is the sum of two types of fat:

  • essential fat is needed for our metabolism and to perform various functions in the body – the percentage is 3/4% in men and 12% in women (% calculated on total body weight);
  • stored fat, which in theory is superfluous, is necessary in small amounts to provide energy, protect against physical trauma and insulate the body to preserve heat – 12% in men, 15% in women.

The normal percentage of fat mass in relation to body weight is indicated according to age in the table below:


Percentage of lean mass

The percentage of lean mass is obtained by subtracting an individual's percentage fat mass from their total weight.
Lean mass consists mainly of water, which varies according to the individual's age.

Percentage of water

Approximately 60% of our body weight is made up of water, a substance that is necessary for life. Women have a slightly lower percentage of body water than men. Also, the percentage of body water is higher in children and decreases with age and increased stored fat.
Changes in body weight that occur over a short period of time (hours or days) are likely to affect total water and thus also lean mass.

quante bottiglie di plastica consumi

Percentage of muscle mass

There are three different types of muscle tissue.

The cardiac striated muscle is represented by the heart, a muscle that contracts involuntarily.

Smooth muscle is found in the walls of the digestive, respiratory and genital tracts, in the wall of venous and arterial blood vessels and is controlled involuntarily.

The skeletal striated muscle tissue contracts under voluntary control, and its task is to initiate skeletal movements, thus enabling us to move. On average, 40% of our body weight is made up of skeletal muscles.

Basal Metabolism


The basal metabolic rate (or BMR) is the minimum amount of calories the human body needs to survive, which for adults ranges between 1200 and 1800 kcal.

BMR is influenced by many factors:

  • age – it is higher when you are young;
  • sex – it is higher in men;
  • height – it is higher for tall people;
  • body composition – the increase in muscle mass leads to an increase in BMR;
  • fever/stress – BMR increases in case of stress or fever;
  • nutritional status – low nutrition decreases BMR, while hyper-protein diets increase it;
  • climate – at very high or very low ambient temperatures, the BMR increases;
  • thyroxine – thyroxine is a hormone produced by the thyroid that regulates the intensity of metabolism.

Taking this into account, the basal metabolic rate allows us to monitor the number of calories the body requires based on physical build and lifestyle.

Body Mass Index

The body mass index quantifies the ratio between an individual's body weight and height. This figure is related to the risk that an inadequate body weight can pose to a person's health. It is important to understand, however, that the body mass index does not distinguish weight variations due to the amount of muscle mass, bone mass, water content or fat accumulation.

Therefore, the simplicity of calculating our BMI should not mislead us into 'do-it-yourself' diets. The formula for calculating BMI is simple: weight in kg divided by height in metres squared. In the case of an adult weighing 70 kg and measuring 1.80 m in height, BMI is calculated using the following formula 70/(1.80 × 1.80) = 21.60.


How to find out our body's main measurements

Nowadays, it's easy to keep a check on your readings. There are scales on the market that can measure body composition, basal metabolism and body mass index, as well as many other measurements.

Via electrodes located on the footplate, the scale sends a weak, low-intensity electric current through the body mass. The electric current reacts differently depending on the mass it encounters: lean mass offers little resistance, while fat mass offers more resistance. These devices are able to maintain a historical archive of data in order to assess its progress, even for multiple family members.

Smart scales are also available, which interface with a smartphone app, making it easier to store, compare and consult stored weight and body function data. These apps also allow you to view up-to-date and easy-to-read graphs and tables, a convenient and very practical tool for those who want to follow and analyse changes in their body data over a medium to long period.

laica's zero waste cookbook

It's your turn, leave your comment!

Get the latest from the Laica blog