Get details on this popular workplace wellness benefit

What is a biometric screening?

If your workplace offers a wellness program, perhaps you’ve been offered a biometric screening.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), biometric screening measures physical characteristics like height, weight and blood pressure to benchmark and evaluate changes in your health status over time.

A biometric screening might identify risk factors for disease, however, only a qualified healthcare provider can diagnose a disease.

Biometric measurements generally refer to the nonblood elements of a screening and may include the following:

Blood pressure

According to the American Heart Association, your blood pressure rises with each heartbeat and falls when your heart relaxes between beats.

Blood pressure is typically recorded as two numbers—systolic or the top number, which measures the pressure in the arteries when your heart beats, and diastolic or the bottom number, which measures pressure in arteries between heartbeats. A normal blood pressure is less than 120/80.

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula based on height and weight that is used to measure body composition. In a biometric screening, BMI is a simple formula and not an exact accounting of your body’s percentage of fat and muscle.

A normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Lower and higher numbers indicate being underweight or overweight—each condition presenting different potential health concerns.

Metabolic rate

Metabolism is the total number of calories your body burns each day—doing physical activities and doing basic body functions like breathing and circulating blood. The calories burned for basic body functions are known as your basal metabolic rate.

About 70% of your total energy expenditure is due to basic body functions, 20% from physical activity and 10% from food digestion. Once you know your metabolic rate, you can tailor nutrition and exercise to help you maintain a healthy weight.


Heart rate or pulse is the number of times your heart beats per minute. Pulse can be checked on your wrist, inside your elbow, on the side of your neck or top of your foot. A normal heart rate while you are resting is between 60-100 beats per minute.

Heart rate varies from person to person—some athletes have very low heart rates and it’s not an issue, while others with low heart rates might faint easily.

Waist circumference

Waist circumference is the distance around your natural waist, which is just above your navel. For best health, your waist should be no more than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women.

Waist size can be an indicator of risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.

The real benefit from a biometric screening is to track your progress over time.

If you have had a biometric screening and are looking to improve your physical fitness and/or nutrition, the YMCA has several offerings that can help, including: