Know your numbers

While many people think they are looking after themselves, lifestyle related diseases remain the major causes of death in the UK. There are key lifestyle numbers that are essential to good health and vitality – they provide a benchmark for you to assess how healthy your lifestyle is.

You can assess yourself for a lot of the numbers; however others like blood pressure require a test for you find out your number. 

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is given as 2 figures:

  • systolic pressure – the pressure when your heart pushes blood out
  • diastolic pressure – the pressure when your heart rests between beats

As a general guide:

  • ideal blood pressure is considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg
  • high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher
  • low blood pressure is considered to be 90/60mmHg or lower

Blood Sugar

For the majority of healthy individuals, normal blood sugar levels are as follows:

  • Between 4.0 to 5.4 mmol/L (72 to 99 mg/dL) when fasting [361]
  • Up to 7.8 mmol/L (140 mg/dL) 2 hours after eating
  • After meals: under 9 mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes and under 8.5mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes

For people with diabetes, blood sugar level targets are as follows:

  • Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/L for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • After meals: under 9 mmol/L for people with type 1 diabetes and under 8.5mmol/L for people with type 2 diabetes


Anyone can have high cholesterol, even if you are young, slim, eat well and exercise. That’s because high cholesterol can be caused by different things. It can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, but it can be genetic too. If your cholesterol is raised, there are treatments available if you need them. 

Key numbers

  • Total cholesterol (TC) below 5mmol/L
  • LDL cholesterol below 3mmol/L
  • HDL cholesterol above 1mmol/L for a man or above 1.2mmol/L for a woman

Waist size

Measuring your waist is a good way to check you’re not carrying too much fat around your stomach, which can raise your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Regardless of your height or weight (BMI), you should try to lose weight if your waist is:

  • 94cm (37ins) or more for men
  • 80cm (31.5ins) or more for women

You’re at very high risk and should contact your GP if your waist is:

  • 102cm (40ins) or more for men
  • 88cm (34ins) or more for women


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