There is much a bathroom scale can tell you, but what it won’t tell you is your fitness level and bone density. Those two health markers are a large indicator of health than the number of pounds you weigh. Here are some of the reasons you should forget about that scale and concentrate on other health factors.
Bone mineral density
You’ll never know you’ve lost bone density or muscle if you rely on the number on the bathroom scale. A recent study of postmenopausal women found that those who lost weight — either on purpose by dieting or because of illness — also lost a whopping six to 32 percent of their bone mineral density. Losing weight sometimes means losing important aspects of your body and that’s not healthy.
Your scale won’t tell you if you’re holding on to too much visceral fat. That’s the kind of fat packed inside your abdomen that raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease. There are different kinds of fat but not too a bathroom scale.
Two better indicators of health
If you need a number to help you judge whether your weight is healthy, skip the scale. Instead, try these two. (If your numbers are higher than they should be, be sure you’re following a healthy eating plan and getting regular exercise.)
- Your waist size. Grab a tape measure. A waist that measures 86 centimetres (34 1/2 inches) or less for women or 100 centimetres (40 inches) or less for men is considered healthy. Anything higher could mean you’re carrying around the type of visceral belly fat that raises your odds for diabetes and heart disease.
- Your body fat percentage. For this one, you’ll have to visit a doctor, clinic, or fitness center that offers body fat analysis. For women over age 60, a healthy body fat percentage is 24 to 35. For men, it’s 18 to 25 percent.
Strength and weight are not the same
Get the exercise you need to build more smooth, dense, strong muscle. Plenty of dramatic studies prove that women and men as old as their late eighties and nineties who stick with a simple, safe, resistance-training program can build strength and agility, replace puffy fat with sleek muscle, and develop a renewed zest for life. One study showed women who traded their non-exercising routine for a twice-a-week weight-training program built muscle, lost fat, and developed stronger bones, yet the scale barely budged.
The number on the scale is just that — a number. It doesn’t tell the real story of what’s going on in your body. For that try some other metrics to determine your health.