From super high-tech devices which look like they came out of a Star Wars movie to everyday tools that cost almost nothing to use, there are many ways to keep track of results from a fitness program. Take a few moments to explore some of the more popular and effective methods and see which ones work best for your lifestyle. You don’t have to choose just one of these to monitor fitness progress.
3D Body Scanner
The ShapeScale makes an ordinary bathroom scale look like something that was featured in The Flintstones. These body scanners are very easy to use in your own home. In addition to gross body weight, most of these devices measure statistics like:
- Body fat percentage
- Lean muscle mass
- Waist girth
The manufacturers claim that these metrics are precise to within a sixteenth of an inch, so the data is quite reliable. Many scanners have other advanced features as well, such as a heat map that lets you identify the precise locations where you’re making progress and a fun time-lapse video feature that offers a nice before-and-after measurement.
At about $900 per scanner, the ShapeScale is probably cost prohibitive for many people. But as more scanners hit the market and the initial “wow” factor wears off, the price will probably drop substantially. The ShapeScale also misses some key metrics, such as bone density.
Despite its esoteric and hypertechnical sounding name, the theory behind the BI is actually quite simple. Electrical impulses travel faster through lean tissue than fat cells, so if these very mild electric shocks come back to the source very quickly, the subject is in good shape.
BI machines are also easy to use. Attach electrodes to your foot and hand, lie still for about thirty seconds, and view the results. Said results may not be very precise, largely because the device uses only the speed of the electrical impulses to extrapolate everything else. Also, seemingly minor variables, like skin temperature and posture, can affect the outcome.
Wearable Fitness Tracker
These devices are obviously absolutely useless with regard to weight, body fat percentage, and other such metrics. But they are a great way to keep track of things like:
- Physical activity (e.g. number of steps)
- Amount of sitting time
- Calorie intake
- Sleep time.
Fitness trackers also let users connect with other people who have made basically the same fitness goals, so they are a good way to stay connected and motivated. A word of caution: These devices may not be very accurate (many people who wear more than one get different results from each device), so keep that in mind.
If you prefer low-tech devices, prepare to be pinched. The tester (or you can do this test on yourself if you’re very talented) grabs some midsection or other fat between the pincers, uses a caliper to measure the fat, and then applies an equation to determine body fat percentage. These gadgets are quite inexpensive and the tests can be done almost anywhere.
Although the test isn’t nearly as uncomfortable as it sounds, there are a lot of moving parts, which tends to make it rather inaccurate. Furthermore, the tester needs to be specially qualified. So, this test is not for everyone.
On the other hand, this test is for everyone, because almost all households have at least one bathroom scale. But much like some of the other methods above, scales are quite inaccurate, mostly because they do not differentiate among fat, muscle, and bone mass. Furthermore, a person’s weight changes during the day, so it’s best to weigh yourself at about the same time to get a good comparison. Here’s a good place to find the best body weight scale. These models are more advanced than the everyday bathroom scales, so you’ll get a more accurate measurement.
For an extra dose of encouragement each day, keep track of your fitness progress in the way that works best for you.