Health Plus
September 27, 2011

Why do I need to know my body fat percentage? Because weight alone does not predict the level of body fat we have in our bodies. Knowing what your body fat percentage is and knowing whether you are in the recommended range for your age and gender can help you make lifestyle choices to be as healthy as possible. The National Institutes of Health has stated that a high percentage of body fat can put one at risk for hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease.

A healthy body fat percentage can lower your risk of developing the above conditions and has other positive benefits such as increasing energy levels and improving flexibility and function.

Look at the chart below and find your gender and age range. Then look at the recommended percentage range for your age and gender. Where are you?

Recommended Percent Body Fat (based on American College of Sports Medicine guidelines):

Age 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+
Female 16-24% 17-25% 19-28% 22-31% 22-33%
Male 7-17% 12-21% 14-23% 16-24% 17-25%


Best Practices: To either maintain or lower your body fat percentage, follow the recommendations below:

  • Walk, run, bike, swim, or do other activities that get you moving at least 30 minutes most days of the week.
  • Choose to eat whole grains and at least five fruits and vegetables daily.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Avoid fast and processed foods as much as possible.
  • Do some weight training of the major muscle groups two to three times a week.

How we can help:

You can come to the Health Plus office in room 127 of the Vanderbilt Recreation and Wellness Center to have your body fat percentage measured by Health Plus staff.  

Keywords: Body Fat, Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Diabetes, Heart Disease