Helpful Tools

Nutritional Counselling and Personal Fitness Consultation 

The University of Alberta's Employee and Family Assistance Program provides psychological counseling, along with a wide range of work life and wellness services. As part of the EFAP program, staff members and their eligible dependents have access to nutritional counselling and a personal fitness consultation.

Measurement Tools

Body Composition

Body composition is described as the relative amounts of fat and lean body tissue. Lean body tissue includes muscle. As a point of interest, 5 pounds of muscle requires 175 calories per day to sustain, whereas 5 pounds of fat requires only 10 calories per day to sustain. Research suggests that individuals who have a higher waist measurement (girth) have an increased risk of cardiac incidents.

Endurance training has a profound effect on body fat and body weight. The effect can be subtle or significant depending on the initial ratio of fat and the level of fitness and individual has. Walking has been cited as one of the most effective ways to add endurance related activities into your daily routine.

If you are interested in gaining an approximate idea of your body composition measurement, follow the directions below:

Hip to Waist Ratio

Stand erect with feet shoulder width apart. Standing in front of a full length mirror may be helpful. For those of you who are brave enough, have a friend do your measurement for you. However, that same friend will also need to do your follow up measurements.

With a tape measure, measure your waist at belly button height. Make sure the tape is horizontal and is at an even level around your waist. Record the measurement.

With the tape measure, measure around your hips (at the widest portion of your hips i.e. where your hips meet the tops of your legs). Record the measurement.

Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement and record the value.

Women with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 0.8 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution.

Men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than 1.0 are at increased health risk because of their fat distribution.

Body Mass Index

The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight of adults. The higher the BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases including high blood pressure, Heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

To calculate your Body Mass Index, use the BMI Calculator available on the Canadian Diabetes Association website. Compare your BMI to the numbers in the following categories:

Underweight = <18.5
Normal weight = 18.5 - 24.9
Overweight = 25 - 29.9
Obesity = BMI of 30 or greater

Target Heart Rate

Your target heart rate is a range at which your body is getting enough of a workout to get stronger, but without overdoing it. For most healthy adults, a target heart rate between 50 and 75 percent of your maximum heart rate. The rate changes depending on how old you are.

To find your Target heart rate:

First subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate

For the Low End, multiply that number by .5

For the High End, multiply that number by .75

If you are someone that is just starting out, you will want to be in the lower part of the range. As you feel more confident you may increase the range with you reach increased fitness levels.


Active Edmonton

Alberta Centre of Active Living

Canada’s Food Guide                                      

Hanson Fitness and Lifestyle Centre             

Health Canada 

Healthy Alberta

Campus and Community Recreation

University Health Centre