Health Assessment

Pre-Screening to Set Goals


The first step in health assessment is to see your doctor. He/she will be able to advise you, discuss options and limitations, encourage you, and monitor the improvements to your general health.

Health Improvement Weight Body Mass Index (BMI)
Resting Heart Rate Body Fat "Choosing a Healthy Weight for Life"
Resting Blood Pressure Circumference Measurements Target (Exercise) Heart Rate Parameters


Health Improvement - Your Ultimate Goal

Health Assessment and pre-screening is an important step in setting health improvement goals. Please read through the following information to assist in setting realistic health goals.

Resting Heart Rate

Your resting heart rate, also known as your “base pulse” is your heart rate when you first wake up in the morning, or when you are very relaxed during the day. For men, an average heart rate is 60-80 beats per minute. For women, the average heart rate is 70-90 beats per minute. A well-conditioned person’s heart rate may be lower than 60 beats per minute. Serious athletes can have resting heart rates in the 40 to 50 beats per minute range. Your resting heart rate is important for several reasons. By monitoring your base pulse regularly, you can measure how you are progressing toward a sustained level of physical fitness. A well-conditioned heart has to work less vigorously to supply the body with blood. Secondly, your base pulse rate can serve as a warning sign of over training, dehydration, sleep difficulties, unhealthy stress or the onset of illness such as colds or flu.

Resting Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the pressure at which blood is pumped through the arteries and veins. Knowing your normal blood pressure is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stay healthy. Blood pressure is measured when the heart beats (systolic) and rests between beats (diastolic) and is expressed by two numbers. The first number, systolic pressure, is normally between 110 and 130 mm Hg. The second number, diastolic pressure is normally between 70 and 80 mm Hg. People with higher than normal blood pressure (often considered pressures higher than 140/90) are at a much higher risk of heart attack and stroke. While there is a genetic influence in high blood pressure, it is primarily a result of poor lifestyle choices.


Weight maintenance is a balancing act between calorie intake and energy expenditure. For most Americans, the calorie intake side of the equation has been too high and the energy expenditure side too low. The goal of those who are overweight should be to decrease caloric intake and increase physical activity. The goal for those whose weight and BMI fall within normal ranges should be weight gain prevention through a continued balance between caloric intake and energy expenditure. Those whose weight is below the recommended healthy weight range might need to increase their weight.

Body Fat

Your body fat percentage is simply the percentage of fat your body contains. A certain amount of fat is essential to bodily functions. Fat regulates body temperature, cushions and insulates organs and tissues, and is the main form of the body’s energy storage. Excess body fat, however, is related to serious health concerns. Monitoring your body fat can be a better indicator of the success of your fitness regime than just tracking your total weight. Proper exercise and healthy eating will lead to a reduction in body fat, but may also increase lean muscle tissue, which weighs more than fat. Your goal should be body fat reduction, as well as total weight loss and a decrease in BMI.

Circumference Measurements

Along with monitoring body fat, measuring the circumference of arms, thighs, chest, waist and hips is an excellent strategy for assessing the need to adjust food intake and exercise. Losing inches indicates you are losing body fat and building lean muscle tissue. Waist circumference is especially important as it can approximate abdominal fat. Fat located in the abdominal region is associated with greater health risks.

Body Mass Index

Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 describes BMI as a more accurate approximation of body fat than measuring body weight alone. BMI is one of the most accurate ways to determine when extra pounds translate into health risks. BMI does have limitations. It can be artificially high in someone who is very muscular, as muscle is heavier than fat. It can also underestimate body fat in those who have lost muscle mass, as people do when they age.

The key is the amount of your weight that’s made up of fat. People are considered obese if their weight is 20% or more greater than normal, or if their Body Mass Index is over 30.

Morbid obesity means a person’s weight is:

  • 50% - 100% more than normal
  • a BMI of 40 or more
  • more than 80-100 pounds over normal
  • at a level that it severely interferes with health or normal function.

The body mass index (BMI) helps measure body fat. It is based on your height and weight.

  • A BMI between 19 and 25 is considered normal.
  • BMI of 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight.
  • A level of 30 or higher is rated as obese.

The higher the BMI, the greater the risk for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and certain cancers.

“Choose a Healthy Weight for Life”


  • Find your Body Mass Index (BMI) on the chart below.
  • If you are overweight or obese, losing just 10% of your body weight can improve your health.
  • If you need to lose weight, do so gradually—1/2 to 2 pounds per week.


  • Keep physically active to balance the calories you consume.
  • Be physically active for at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) on most days of the week.
  • Limit TV time to less than 2 hours per day.


  • Select sensible portion sizes.
  • Follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans

healthy BMI

Note: This chart is for adults (aged 20 years and olders)
Source: US Surgeon General

Target (Exercise) Heart Rate Parameters

The heart is the body’s most important muscle. Like all muscles, it will weaken and atrophy through lack of use. Conversely, the heart can be conditioned and developed according to the same principles that work for other muscles. Your heart rate (pulse) is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Under normal conditions, the faster it beats during exercise, the harder you are working. A walk that doesn’t increase the heart rate into what is known as your “target exercise” or “working heart rate zone”, may be a pleasant activity, but it doesn’t have the cardiovascular benefit that is desired from exercise. You will receive the most health improvement and increased physical fitness when you work in your exercise heart rate zone.

Target Heart Rate

Note: Information for Health Assessment courtesy of Trudy Merritt, North Platte Recreation Complex
Web Links: National Wellness Institute, Free Health Assessment at