Digital Scale Breakdown
When you think about a traditional bathroom scale, the thought doesn't churn up a lot of excitement, does it? That's because you're not thinking of 21st-century bathroom scales.
Traditional bathroom scales give your weight and that's it. But if you look past the stereotype of the bathroom scale, you'll see the modern version: a digital scale that offers a whole lot more. Want to know your weight? No problem. What about your BMI? Your body fat percentage? Your body water rating? Want to know your metabolic age?
Step on your 21st-century bathroom scale, and prepare to be amazed.
21st-Century Bathroom Scales
There are two broad categories of bathroom scales: analog or digital. Which is best for you depends on what you want it to do.
These are the more traditional, Grandma-style bathroom scales. You step on the platform, springs are compressed, and a dial moves to show you how much you weigh. That's about all there is to it.
Digital scales are more expensive than analog, and they offer a much wider range of features. Today's digital scales have more advanced capabilities that offer up a wide array of information about your body.
- Body Composition Measurements. Modern digital scales may include measurements such as water weight retention, body fat percentage, body mass index (BMI), and even your basal metabolic rate (BMR.)
- Bluetooth or WiFi Capabilities. Today's digital bathroom scales can include Bluetooth or WiFi connection capability. This allows you to connect to your smartphone, tablet, computer, or other fitness tracking device. You can then track up-to-date information and store it to use in achieving your fitness goals. They can also be linked with a body composition scale that allows tracking of weight, BMI, and even blood pressure.
How Do Digital Bathroom Scales Do That?
How do digital scales manage to pull off these seemingly magical feats of measurement and data collection? It really isn't magic; it's technology.
Bluetooth scales send data from the scale directly to your connected devices, such as your smartphone, tablet, computer, or fitness tracker. You'll need to download the app to allow your devices to talk to each other over the Bluetooth connection.
These scales connect to your internet network over your WiFi system. Again, you'll need to download the appropriate app for your scale and devices. Once the scale collects the data, it sends the information to the cloud. You can then retrieve it at your leisure.
Gathering Up Your Data
That explains the connectivity features, but how does the scale know your body mass index? That's not magic either; it's science.
It all begins when you take off your socks and step on the scale. Your bare feet send out a weak electrical current (not just because you stepped on the scale; our bodies work because of electrical currents so they're zipping around us, inside and out, all the time.) This current travels up one leg and down the other. The scale measures the degree of resistance, or bioelectrical impedance, there is to the flow of the current.
Different types of tissue demonstrate different levels of resistance. Tissue that is low in or free of fat provides less resistance than tissues with fat content because it has higher water content. By determining the level of resistance in your tissue, the scale can determine how much lean tissue you have and how much is fat mass. It then uses this information to estimate your body fat percentage.
But That's Not All
All the numbers, bells, and whistles are great but what does it all mean? Here's a rundown of the features your digital scales have to offer, and what each of them tells about you.
- Weight. This is the total weight of your entire body - water, fat, muscle, bone, all of it.
- Body fat. This number tells you how much fat you have stored in your body. This includes the sum of all the fat, both surface-level below the skin and internally among muscles and organs.
- BMI. The body mass index is a measure of how much fat is in the body based on the height and weight of the individual.
- Subcutaneous fat. This type of fat can actually be considered a part of the skin. The top layer of skin is the epidermis, and the middle layer is the dermis. The deepest layer of the skin is the subcutaneous fat.
- Visceral fat. This is the type of body fat that loves to hang around (literally) and within the abdominal cavity. It's usually stored near vital organs such as the stomach, liver, and intestines.
- Body water. This is self-explanatory. Once we reach adulthood, our bodies consist of around 50 percent water.
- Skeletal muscle. Skeletal muscles are the ones that we can grow and develop through weight training and exercise. The total weight of your skeletal muscles is your skeletal muscle mass.
- Metabolic age. Your metabolic age is a measure of how many calories your body burns when you're at rest compared to the average calories burned by someone of your same age in the average population. The lower your metabolic age, the longer your expected lifespan.
A word of caution: don't get so caught up in the numbers game that you forget to stop and smell the roses now and then.
Should You Buy a Digital Bathroom Scale?
When it comes to the bathroom scale in your life, should you stick with the old reliable analog or go with the new, updated digital one? The choice is, of course, up to you. Either way, what you want is the most accurate reading you can get in the most durable equipment that your budget will allow. Analog is cheaper than digital. Digital is more accurate than analog. But both can fall victim to inaccuracies if they aren't set up correctly.
Number one rule: set the scale on a hard, flat surface, not on rugs or carpet. Use the scale in the same place each time. If you move it, recalibrate it before use. Better yet, recalibrate it before each use.
So, there you have it. Grab the scale that's best for you and start knocking down those extra pounds, beefing up that muscle mass, dropping that BMI number, and lowering that metabolic age. No better time than the present to get started!