What’s the link between your waistline and heart health?\nWhile you’ve probably heard that staying at a healthy weight can help lower your risk for heart disease, you might be surprised to learn that where you carry your weight \u2013 for example, around your middle \u2013 can have a bigger impact on your heart than just the numbers on your scale.\nFind out about the connection between your waistline and your heart and what you can do to lower your risks.\nRELATED: Infographic: What Your Body Shape Says About Your Health\nWhat Is Healthy Weight?\nExcess weight can raise your risk for many health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But what does “healthy weight” mean? Healthy weight relates not only to the numbers on your scale, but also where you carry your weight in your body.\nIf you don’t have a scale at home, you can find out your weight at your doctor’s office. Once you know your weight, you can use it to figure out your body mass index, or BMI, which measures body fat according to your height and weight.\nYou can calculate your BMI by using this tool from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Your BMI will fall into one of these categories:\n\nUnderweight: Less than 18.5\nNormal weight: 18.5 to 24.9\nOverweight: 25 to 29.9\nObese: 30 or greater\n\nWhile having a healthy BMI is important, it’s also very important to pay attention to where you carry your weight, because different types of fat affect your health in different ways.\nBeing pear-shaped, or carrying your weight around your hips and thighs, does not affect your heart health the way that being apple-shaped, or carrying your weight around your waistline does.\nThe Waistline and Heart Health Connection\nVisceral fat \u2013 the kind of fat around your waist \u2013 is linked to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance, all of which raise your risk for heart disease. You can have a healthy BMI and still have too much visceral fat, depending on the size of your waistline.\nTo measure your waistline size, place a measuring tape around your waist, just above your belly button. Your risk for heart disease is higher if you have a waistline greater than:\n\n40 inches for men\n35 inches for women\n\nTrimming Your Waistline to Help Your Heart\nBy making healthy choices in what you eat and how often you move, you can help not only reach or maintain a healthy weight, but also slim down your middle.\n\nChoose a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.\nRead nutrition labels so you understand the amount of calories, fat, sugar, and sodium in packaged foods.\nPay attention to serving sizes so you don’t go overboard on calories, fat, sugar, or sodium.\nGet 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five times per week. This can include brisk walking, dancing, gardening, playing with your kids, and other household activities that raise your heart rate.\nAdd strength training \u2013 or exercising with weights \u2013 into your routine.\n\nBefore you start any new diet or activity plan, it’s best to talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you.\nTo learn more, visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute or call 1-855-UPMC-HVI (876-2484)\u00a0or visit one of our Pittsburgh heart screenings to gain more insight into your health.