How Do You Measure Health and Wellness?

Unlock the secrets to true wellness by understanding the nuances between health, well-being, and achieving a balanced lifestyle.

Amy Brownstein
By Amy Brownstein

Published June 4, 2024.

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Health, wellness, and well-being are often used interchangeably. But there are nuances to their definitions. Health is a person’s status in relation to illness or disease, whereas well-being signifies an overall satisfaction with life. Wellness encompasses both well-being and health. It takes a more holistic approach by recognizing the importance of mental, social, and physical aspects of health to achieve a balanced lifestyle. Therefore, measuring health and wellness incorporates assessments of the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual factors of life that contribute to health. [1,2]

Well-being and wellness are often discussed in the context of the work environment, as job-related stresses and relationships can impact feelings of satisfaction and mental well-being. Employers are always looking for ways to proactively measure wellness to help improve employee health, encourage a greater sense of well-being, and reduce burnout, and top employees are looking for that edge to level up in their careers.    

While you may be able to assess certain aspects of health and wellness on your own (like how you feel), using a tool like InsideTracker can offer critical insight into objective measurements of health and wellness. InsideTracker provides a personal health analysis and data-driven wellness guide to help you optimize your health to live healthier longer.

Let’s dive into the many ways of measuring health and wellness.

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There are many ways to measure wellness

There are many ways to measure wellness; some assessments utilize objective measures, while others incorporate subjective techniques. 

For example, objective measurements include blood biomarkers and physical metrics, whereas subjective assessments utilize questionnaires to consider psychological affect, happiness, and satisfaction in personal, social, spiritual, and work-related realms. 

Physical measurements 

Physical measurements—such as body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and body fat percentage—can be used to assess health and wellness, as these metrics are associated with increased risks of certain chronic diseases. 

Body mass index

BMI was established to provide an index of “normal” relative body weight. Large-scale studies consistently show an association between BMI and metabolic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and liver disease. [3] 

But BMI is not without limitations, as it does not consider age, race, ethnicity, muscle mass, or sex, all factors that influence health and wellness. So while BMI is linked to all-cause mortality and metabolic diseases at the population level, other metrics can be stronger indicators of metabolic health, especially at the individual level.

Waist circumference

Waist circumference, the measurement around a person’s waist, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality and all-cause mortality, independent of BMI. [4,5] 

Body fat percentage

Body fat percentage can be estimated using BMI or waist circumference or directly measured with tools like bioelectrical impedance or DEXA scans. Tools like bioelectrical impedance and DEXA scans can provide additional insight into your health and wellness. One study of people with a healthy BMI found a greater number (two or more) of cardiometabolic irregularities (elevated triglyceride, glucose, and hsCRP levels, decreased HDL cholesterolinsulin resistance, and hypertension) in participants with a higher body fat percentage than those with a lower body fat percentage, suggesting a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease, despite a healthy BMI. [6] 

While studies show that physical measurements can be associated with increased risks of certain metabolic diseases, additional tools like blood tests can offer a deeper look at your state of health. Moreover, physical measurements tend to be better suited for assessing health at a population level, whereas other metrics (such as blood biomarkers, assessments of how you feel, and physical endurance and stamina) are more appropriate for evaluating health at the individual level.

Blood biomarker measures

Blood tests provide insight into your physical health. Using InsideTracker to measure blood biomarkers (proteins, enzymes, nutrients, cells, and hormones) can help assess your health and wellness and catch any warning signs of potential problems. And routine blood testing every three to six months enables you to reassess health and wellness, helping you remain in the optimal health zone. [7] 

Cholesterol levels

Cholesterol tests or lipid panels measure the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. They can provide useful information on health and longevity, as increased low-density lipoproteins (LDL), total cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are associated with a greater risk of heart disease and mortality. Moreover, the presence of high LDL and total cholesterol with low high-density lipoproteins (HDL) cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and early death compared to optimal cholesterol levels. [8] 

Blood sugar levels

Fasting blood glucose, insulin, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests measure how well the body regulates blood sugar. A fasting glucose test and a fasting insulin test reflects how efficiently the body manages blood sugar in a single moment and can be affected by sleep, stress, illness, and the composition of your most recent meal. Alternatively, HbA1c measures blood sugar levels over a longer period (three to four months). 

Persistently elevated blood sugar levels can lead to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and if uncontrolled, can contribute to long-term health complications such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, nerve damage, and kidney disease.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in health, participating in numerous physiological processes, including bone health, glucose metabolism, immune function, inflammation, and cardiovascular function. Moreover, emerging research suggests the importance of vitamin D for mood, a vital component of wellness. Vitamin D contributes to improved healthspan and longevity, as adequate vitamin D status is associated with a decreased risk of falls and fractures and improved balance and physical mobility. [9-11] 

Hormone levels

Measuring hormone levels—such as estradiolprogesterone, testosterone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and cortisol—can offer further insights into your health status, as hormones are linked to multiple bodily processes and can impact other biomarkers (including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and blood glucose) associated with health and wellness. Therefore, maintaining optimal hormone levels can contribute to wellness, whereas abnormal values can indicate health issues. 

Behavioral measurements 

Behavioral measurements (sleep, diet, and physical activity) assess factors contributing to your subjective well-being, risk of chronic disease, and overall life satisfaction. Behavioral measurements can be objective or subjective, depending on the tools used and the interpretation of the data collected.


Wearable devices allow you to monitor and optimize your sleep time and habits, as sleep quality and duration are essential for health and wellness. Research suggests the optimal sleep time is seven to nine hours. [12] And the amount of time you spend in each of the four sleep phases—light, deep, REM, and awake time—can influence physical recovery and mental restoration (the process whereby memories are solidified), affecting athletic or work-related performance. 

InsideTracker syncs with Oura Rings, Garmin smartwatches, Apple Watches, and Fitbits to automatically pull in sleep data, analyze it, provide solutions to optimize specific aspects of your sleep, and deliver intel on how your sleep patterns are possibly affecting other areas of your health.  

Dietary intake

Studies show that a healthy, nutritious diet may reduce the risk of chronic disease. This may look like increasing servings of certain foods while decreasing consumption of others.

One large study found that a higher intake of vegetables, fruits, and legumes was associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cardiovascular and noncardiovascular mortality. Aiming for three to four daily servings of fruits, vegetables, and legumes can reduce the risk of premature death by 22%. [13] 

Conversely, diets with a higher processed meat intake may negatively affect health and wellness. One large study of more than 164,000 participants found an association between a higher intake of processed meat and a greater risk of major cardiovascular events, such as fatal cardiovascular disease, nonfatal heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. [14] 

Exercise habits

Exercise is associated with countless health benefits. Exercise habits can be measured using fitness trackers (objective data) or more subjective assessments such as functional outcomes (personal bests in a workout) or how you feel during an activity. Utilizing fitness trackers can help evaluate whether you’re meeting exercise recommendations of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two weekly resistance training sessions to support health and wellness. [15] 

Psychological well-being

While InsideTracker does not directly measure psychological well-being, mental health certainly plays a significant role in health and wellness, and several blood biomarker levels. InsideTracker’s personalized recommendations may provide additional mental health benefits. For example, spending time outside in the sun benefits vitamin D levels and may also improve mental health. [9] 

Choose the right tool for measuring wellness and health promotion 

With countless health and wellness measurement tools on the market, knowing which option is best can be confusing. Blood analyses are a cost-effective, accurate, and reliable measure of health and wellness, meaning that any difference in a person’s test results at two points in time—given the same conditions—may result from lifestyle differences. By using blood tests to assess biomarkers, InsideTracker objectively analyzes your current state of health and allows you to see the effects of lifestyle modifications.

InsideTracker also integrates with Apple Watch, Garmin smartwatches, Fitbits, and Oura Rings to collect real-time data on heart rate and sleep. Because there is no “one-size fits all approach” to health and wellness, InsideTracker provides personalized analysis with science-backed actionable recommendations tailored to your specific health status and wellness goals. While InsideTracker is not a replacement for medical care or one-on-one interaction with a healthcare professional, it offers a personalized track to optimization that can help improve mental and physical performance on the job in personal relationships. 

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