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How Much Weight Do You Need to Lose to Improve Your Health?

We hear a lot these days about health issues associated with being overweight. But if your ideal healthy weight is 30, 50 or 100 pounds away, how do you get motivated?

Start small.

The good news is you get health benefits from even a 5% weight loss — that’s just 10 pounds for someone who weighs 200.

Here’s how a 5% weight loss goes a long way to better health:

Lower blood pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels. Excess weight can cause high blood pressure, or hypertension, which increases the risk of heart failure, kidney disease and stroke.

A 5% weight loss can reduce blood pressure by five points.

Reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin properly, and blood sugar that is used as an energy source for your cells builds up in the blood instead. Over time, this can cause problems with your heart, nerves, kidneys or eyes.

A 5% weight loss can reduce the risk of diabetes by 58%.

Less strain on knee joints

Excess weight can cause wear and tear on the knee joint, leading to pain that may limit your ability to move. The simple act of walking puts a force of one and a half times your body weight on your knees, and that’s just on level ground. Add an incline and the force jumps to twice your weight. Squat to pick something up and that shoots to 4-5 times your weight.

A 5% weight loss eases that strain significantly. Each pound lost equals a 4-pound reduction in load on the knee joint.

Improved sleep

Getting the proper amount of good sleep is key to good physical and emotional health. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and diabetes. Extra weight is also one of the causes of sleep apnea, a breathing disorder that interrupts the sleep cycle.

A 5% weight loss can increase sleep by more than 20 minutes per night.

Go slow and steady

The path to weight loss will vary from one person to another, but the best long-term results come with a slow, steady reduction in weight (1-2 pounds per week). Keeping weight off requires realistic changes in eating habits and regular physical activity. Celebrate one lost pound at a time — it won’t take much to make a difference in your health.

Calculate your weight loss percentage here or click here to read more about exercise.

Nancy Henderson

Nancy Henderson, a writer and editor originally from New York, moved to Nashville more than 25 years ago and considers herself more Tennessean than Yankee these days. She has written about health care and wellness for a variety of publications.

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

WellTuned provides inspiration and practical advice for healthy living.
WellTuned does not offer medical advice. Any personal health questions should be addressed to your doctor.

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