Does my BMI look big in this? And does it really matter?

Does my BMI look big in this? And does it really matter?

Tim Olds, Professor of Health Sciences at University of South Australia answers the questions "How do we measure fatness? What is this BMI thing, and is it all it’s cracked up to be? Is life just one long slide into adiposity, and what can I do about it?"

You'll find quite a few articles about the benefits of exercise and fitness on this site; how that can help with CLL related fatigue, reduce depression and help us have an easier time during treatment. As was mentioned by a couple of those providing comments "it (BMI) really is a helpful research tool for highlighting trends and things we need to look out for" and "it is a good comparative tool for yourself."


Photo: Raindrops on a eucalyptus twig. After a dry end to winter and a dry spring, we've just had 10% of our annual rainfall in the last few days. That's in the middle of our usually very dry summer and we've more rain yet to come. Well at least it will help refill the very dry rainwater tanks...

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4 Replies

  • Neil -

    I have to say that weight loss has been a struggle with the fatigue, even before diagnosis, even at stage A. I have a BMI of 31.

    I use a step counter app on my cell phone as a rough guide to my activity level. Some days, I walk so slow, it doesn't trigger the counter! I know the counts from one end of the house to the other, so I can adjust the total.

    It's also been hard to do regular exercise when hit with, it seems, weekly or bi-weekly infections with low grade fever. Should I press on despite such a fever? I've seen guidelines for healthy people, such as:

    Do you see any reason or reasearch not to apply this advice to us as well? I often find that simply adding another 2000 steps in a day leaves me exhausted for the next day or 2. I have body aches all the time. After extra steps, I feel like I've been put on the old torture rack - even arms and neck ache. It seems like general inflammation.

    I know there's folks out there at more advanced stages doing 5K and 10K runs - not walking. But I doubt we are all the same in constitution. I wish I knew what the other factors were.


  • Seymour, as the personal trainer and exercise physiotherapist Geralyn Coopersmith says in the article, "you really need to know your limits". The difficulty with CLL and particularly illness with CLL is that your limits are worsening - and you can easily exceed them without knowing you are doing so. I found this out at great cost to my health and fitness shortly after my CLL diagnosis, which was the result of an investigation into my falling immunity (rapidly worsening neutropenia), so I was always battling infections. Like you, I'd feel good enough on the day to do more exercise than I was really capable of doing - and like you, I'd be wiped out for several days following, so my fitness went backwards. It was only after I began to pace myself better and get my vitamin D into the normal range, that I was able to gradually rebuild (somewhat) my fitness and health. It took a couple of years to get much of my fitness back.

    So the trick is to try and avoid getting ill and thereby unfit and if you do get into that situation, take it very slowly rebuilding your fitness.

    Just don't give up. You may never be able to do a 5k run, but you can improve your fitness so that your quality of life makes life very much worth living.


  • Thanks, Neil.

    I feel myself becoming more and more sedentary. I know my sinuses are worse if I lay in bed, though. So I'm happier to be vertical. I think I'm passed the safe point of trying any kind of radical sinus surgery (balloon sinuplasty), and it doesn't have a great record even in normal people.

    I also think that at my age, there's normal pain after exercise - arthritic - that might improve with more exercise. So I intend to keep the pressure toward more exercise on, and at least make it ratchet downward instead of letting it slide.

  • Good on you. Even the gentle exercise from walking can pay huge dividends. I eventually got to the point where I felt worse if I didn't get some exercise and beyond the point where I wished that public seating was more available along my walk. More energetic exercise is still beyond me, but I can get a fair distance now, provided I pace myself and have the occasional rest along the way. Walking with camera in hard also gives me a good apparent reason to stop for a rest in the guise of stopping to take some photographs :) . I do feel pretty stiff in my back afterwards though, but you see so much that you miss if you go cycling or running.


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