Healthy living tips and information at MerckEngage.com

Health Planning
Condition Library
Healthy Conversations
Caregiving
Medicine Matters
View our YouTube Channel

getting fit

Create an Activity Plan

Browse Activities

Featured Activity

Yoga

Yoga is a series of stretches and poses, usually in a class, for flexibility, strength, and balance development. The intensity of yoga can be adjusted according to the level of experience.

View Activity

More From MerckEngage

Merck Products & Resources

Linda's Story

View Video

Conversation Starters

What do you think about your new medicine? Use this quick survey to help start a chat with your doctor!

Medicine Worksheet [PDF]

Create a handy record of all your medicines, vitamins, and supplements.

Tips for Taking Your Medicine [PDF]

Try these simple steps for remembering to take and refill your medicines.

Additional Resources

Condition Tracking Tools

More From MerckEngage

Merck Products & Resources

 

You have already invited a caregiver. You will be notified when that person accepts the invitation to join you in MerckEngage®.

OK
Migraine

Know Your Healthy Weight Basics

Down to Basics

What is a healthy weight? The answer can vary from person to person. One way to determine whether you are at a healthy weight is by calculating your body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated using your height and weight. A person's BMI can fall into 1 of 3 categories: healthy, overweight, or obese.

Finding Your Healthy Weight

Using the chart below, find your height in the left-hand column and move across the row until you find your weight. For most people, BMI is a good way to tell if your weight is putting your health at risk. Be sure to talk to your health care professional if you have any questions or concerns.

Your Waist Size Matters

It's not just the amount of excess weight you may be carrying—where you carry the excess weight is important too. Carrying weight mainly around the middle of the body can increase the risk of health problems. This is true even if your BMI falls within the normal range. For people with the same weight or BMI, women with a waist size of more than 35 inches, or men with a waist size of more than 40 inches, are at a higher risk than people with smaller waists.

Reasons for Weight Gain

Lifestyle
Living in today's fast-paced world does not always make it easy to find the time to eat right and exercise regularly.

Emotions
Many people eat when they are bored, sad, angry, or stressed—even though they are not hungry.

Family history
Being overweight or obese tends to run in families. For example, if a parent or grandparent has a weight concern, your chances also may increase.

Age
As people age, muscle mass tends to decrease. Lowered muscle mass can lead to a slower metabolism—meaning that the body does not burn calories as rapidly. This can make it harder to keep off excess weight. Other factors related to aging, such as hormonal changes and a less active lifestyle, also may play a role.

Medicines
Some medicines can cause weight gain. Ask your health care professional or pharmacist about the side effects of any medicines you are taking.

Understanding the Risks

Being overweight or obese affects more than just appearance. It might affect your health—increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and certain types of cancer. By eating right and becoming more active, you might be able to help lower any increased risks and manage your current health. Making 1 small change at a time can help you get started on the right path.

Losing Weight

Losing as little as 5% of your body weight may improve your health. For someone who weighs 200 pounds, this means losing 10 pounds. What's the safest way to lose weight? Slow and steady. A weight loss of a half pound to 2 pounds a week is ideal. Talk to your health care professional about a weight-loss goal that's right for you.

Tips for Losing and Maintaining Weight

For many people, the idea of losing weight and maintaining weight loss can feel overwhelming. Not sure where to begin? Here are 5 tips that can help you get started:

  1. Set specific and realistic goals. Select a series of short-term goals that get closer and closer to the ultimate goal. By making your goals specific and realistic, you'll have a better chance of meeting them. And of staying with your efforts.
  2. Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It's also important to ask him or her for your target heart rate to help determine the appropriate exercise intensity for you.

  3. Mini goals make good sense. Instead of setting 1 big or long-term goal, consider breaking it down into smaller, less overwhelming mini goals. For example, set weekly or monthly weight loss goals instead of a yearly goal. With each mini goal, you'll get closer and closer to the final goal.
  4. Keep track of all your efforts. Writing down what you've been eating, how active you've been, and how much weight you've lost can help you see how far you've already come. It also can make sharing information with your health care professional easier.
  5. Become more aware of your eating habits. For many people, social or environmental "cues" can lead to overeating. Take time to look at your cues that may cause you to overeat. Then, make a change. For example, if you tend to overeat when you’re with certain friends, do something active with those friends—go for a walk instead of going out to dinner.
  6. Reward yourself. Each time you reach a goal, celebrate it—but not with food. Do something nice for yourself. You deserve it.

Eating Right

Eating the right foods can help boost your weight loss efforts and give you more energy. Always be sure to talk with your health care professional before making any changes to your diet. In general, most people should aim for a diet that:

  • Focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk products
  • Includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and nuts
  • Is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars

Tips for Eating Right

Today's busy lifestyle and the convenience of fast-food restaurants sometimes can make eating right challenging. Here are 6 tips that can help you stay in control and make healthier choices.

  1. Start each day with a healthy breakfast. People who eat breakfast have a lower chance of overeating later in the day. Another bonus: Eating a healthy breakfast can help give you the energy you need to get through your day.
  2. Include more whole grains. Including whole grains in your diet, such as whole-wheat breads and pastas, oatmeal, and brown rice, can help you maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Eat a variety of vegetables. Vegetables of different colors provide different nutrients. Try to include a rainbow of red-, green-, and orange-colored veggies on your plate whenever possible. For red, think beets or red bell peppers. Green could include broccoli or spinach. Carrots or sweet potatoes are good choices for orange.
  4. Keep healthy snacks on hand. The key to a healthy snack? Think low fat and low sugar. But that does not mean healthy foods have to be low in taste. Fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt, and air-popped popcorn are healthy but flavorful choices. Eating healthy snacks such as these actually can help control hunger and prevent overeating.
  5. Watch your portions. Pay attention to serving sizes on food labels. Consider serving food on a plate instead of snacking directly from a bag or container—this can often lead to overeating.
  6. Because restaurant portions tend to be large, try splitting a meal or taking half home when you're dining out.

  7. Limit sweets, fats, and oils. Try cutting back on foods and beverages that are high in added sugars. Limit fats and oils as well. If you must use them, aim for healthier kinds, such as olive and fish oils.

Becoming More Active

Becoming more active is important for reaching a healthy weight. Activity can help you lose weight and keep it off. Adding physical activity also can reduce your overall risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It’s also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Tips for Becoming More Active

Becoming more active does not have to mean joining a gym or exercising for long periods of time. In fact, experts recommend working up to 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week. This could mean gardening, walking, biking, dancing—almost any activity that increases your heart rate counts. Make it fun. Here are 5 tips to help you get moving in the right direction:

  1. Start slowly. If you're not currently as active as you'd like to be, that's OK. Start slowly, even if it means starting with just 5 or 10 minutes of activity for now. Work your way up to 30 minutes a day. Be patient. You'll get there.
  2. Monitor your heart rate. Ask your health care professional about a target heart rate that's right for you. Target heart rate is a desired range of times that your heart beats per minute.
  3. Set goals. Setting current goals (such as walking 1 block 3 times a week) as well as future ones (walking 3 blocks 5 times a week) can give you something specific to work toward. Goals also can help keep you motivated.
  4. Get comfortable. Wear comfortable socks and shoes and select the right kinds of clothing for the activity you'll be doing.
  5. Think variety. Choosing from a variety of activities can help prevent boredom. It also can keep your mind and body challenged.

Reaching Your Goals

Achieving a healthy weight is a goal everyone can be proud of—family and friends, your health care professional, and especially you. Not only will you feel better—you'll also reduce your risk of developing health problems. Making healthy changes, such as eating the right foods in the right portions and adding activity, can help you get to a healthy weight and stay there.

Understanding the Words Your Health Care Professional May Use

You may hear some of these words:

Aerobic activity: Any physical movement that makes you breathe hard and increases your heart rate for a certain period of time.

Body mass index (BMI): A way to tell whether a person is at a healthy weight, overweight, or obese. BMI measures your weight in relation to your height.

Calorie: A measurement of food energy.

Metabolism: The process by which the body converts food into energy.

Obese: A BMI of 30 or more.

Overweight: A BMI of 25 but less than 30.

Portion: The amount of food eaten at 1 time, which may be more or less than a serving size.

Serving size: The amount of food listed on a Nutrition Facts label—for example, number of pieces or ounces.

Target heart rate: A desired range of times that your heart beats per minute.

Further Resources

About.com

Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

The Cleveland Clinic health information

eMedicineHealth.com

KidsHealth.org

Mayo Clinic

Pollen.com

WebMD


Further Resources

Allergy and Asthma Network - Mothers of Asthmatics, Inc.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

American Lung Association

CDC: asthma's impact on children and adolescents

CDC: how to quit

EPA: asthma and indoor environments

NIH: asthma and physical activity in the school

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Further Resources

American Diabetes Association

Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation

Diabetic Exercise and Sports Association

International Diabetes Federation

NIH: NIDDK diabetes health information

NIH: NIDDK nutrition information

NIH: National Diabetes Education Program

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation


Further Resources

American Council for Headache Education

American Headache Society

National Headache Foundation

New England Center for Headache


Further Resources

American Dietetic Association

Dietary guidelines for americans

Food and nutrition information center

NIH: nutrition information

NIH: weight loss and control

NIH: weight control


Always check with the health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing activity. It's also important to ask him or her about target heart rate to help determine appropriate exercise intensity.

Always check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity. It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

Always be sure to check with your health care professional before beginning any activity plan or increasing your activity.

It always helps to ask:

  • What activities are right for me?
  • How much should I do each day?
  • How many days a week?

It's also important to ask him or her what your target heart rate is to help determine what exercise intensity is appropriate for you.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

This information is provided by an independent source. Merck is not responsible for this content. Please discuss any and all treatment options with your healthcare professional. The manufacturer of a product generally has the most complete information about that product.

Before making decisions about which policies, if any, to purchase, be sure to:

Thoroughly research policies Review the coverage Compare policy options

Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF 6 pages, 183k] including the health insurance options information on this page.

Before making Medicare choices, always:

Thoroughly review coverage Compare options Call Medicare at 800-633-4227 if you have any questions

Download complete insurance quick reference [PDF, 3 pages, 160k], including Medicare and Medicaid information on this page.

Sign up for
MerckEngage

There's even more support waiting when you sign up. You'll have practical help for setting and reaching goals as you customize your ongoing Health Plan.

You can sign up now. It's free.

Learn the benefits of signing up.

How MerckEngage will use your information.

Have questions about MerckEngage or need help? Support Representatives are here for you. Call 877-MERCK-36 (877-637-2536).

Health Coach Call

Listen to an example of what a call might sound like.

PlayNutrition call (7:16)
PlayActivity call (7:22)

Here are some important things to know about your Health Coach Call:

Our Coaches are employed by a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc., a pharmaceutical company. The information provided is based on generally available nutrition and physical activity guidelines and information applicable to most people. Health Coaches are not licensed dietitians or health and fitness professionals, and they are not in a position to assess your individual nutrition or activity needs. This information is not appropriate if you are pregnant, and it may not be appropriate if you have specialized dietary needs or limitations on the level of activity or exercise you can safely undertake due to your medical conditions. Consult your health care professional regarding your specific needs, limitations, and health conditions. Health Coaches can educate and coach you on nutritional and physical activity recommendations for the typical person. Health Coaches are not health care professionals and cannot offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your health care professional because he or she knows you best. If you have a chronic health condition, check with your health care professional to find out if physical activity is safe before you start. If during your call you have concerns about any condition, special dietary needs, limitations on the level of activity or exercise, any treatments, side effects, or adverse experiences, your Health Coach will refer you to your health care professional.

Activity Points Explained

This Planner uses Activity Points as a way to help you stay motivated and focused on your activity goals. Points are assigned to each activity in the Planner. You'll earn more points when you increase the duration of the activity.

For example, when you bicycle for 15 minutes at a moderate pace (12 to 14 mph), you earn 120 Activity Points. To earn the same number of Activity Points while cycling at a very easy pace (less than 10 mph), you would need to bike for 30 minutes.

If you are currently inactive or get very little activity during the week, a good goal to work toward is 500 Activity Points each week. This is equal to 30 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic exercise on 5 days a week.

If you are moderately or highly active (more than 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week), you may want to aim for up to 1,000 Activity Points each week. This is equivalent to 1 hour of activity on 5 days a week.

What you'll gain

At 500 Activity Points per week: Once you consistently reach this level (ie, 150 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain substantial health benefits. These benefits include lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and depression.

At 1,000 Activity Points per week: When you consistently reach this level (ie, 300 minutes of moderate–intensity aerobic activity per week), you may gain even more health benefits. These benefits include a decreased risk of colon and breast cancer and an even lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.