It’s a quick, painless and cost effective measure of body composition that is now open to everyone.
Over the years, fitness clubs have weighed you in kilos, tape-measured you in centimetres, grabbed your skinfolds with callipers and stood you on Tanita scales, in an attempt to illustrate your start position and progress. These methods are open to error and fail to provide vital health information such as your fat to lean muscle ratio, where on your body fat is deposited and your bone density – and these details matter.
DEXA stands for dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. A DEXA scan takes 3-5 minutes and costs around $80-150.
If you are about to embark on a new fitness plan a DEXA scan can provide you with a baseline picture, so you know how much work you have to do and what areas you need to focus on. The scan may show that whilst you do not carry much fat, you are a little sparse on lean muscle and your bone density could be improved. This information tells you that resistance training would be more beneficial to you than swimming.
Once you know your baseline, subsequent DEXA scans will tell you accurately how you are progressing. Weight loss may seem like a positive thing, but if it is as a result of muscle rather than fat loss – be it due to under-eating or over-training, it is not a desirable outcome and a DEXA scan can get you back on the right track. Similarly, a DEXA scan can help you fight sarcopenia and osteoporosis – the muscle and bone losses that occur with age.
It is not just how much fat you have on your body, but where the fat is deposited that has a huge influence on health. Belly fat is linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancers. The DEXA scan indicates the ratio of your upper to lower body fat percentage, as well as how much fatty tissue you hold around your middle. Your home scales just can’t do this.
Whether you are an athlete preparing for competition, a regular gym goer looking to monitor your progress more accurately or just someone who is interested in checking their health and wellbeing over time, see what a DEXA scan can do for you.
By Rachel Livingstone Personal Trainer & Owner of The Health Hub www.healthhub.net.au
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