Stopwatches, mirrors, tape measures: in ages past, creating as complete a picture of your health and fitness as possible meant compiling scraps of information from decidedly lacking means.
Today, however, you have access to data points capable of:
- Determining your body composition, from bone density to visceral fat and more.
- Identifying your resting metabolic rate, a crucial step in establishing a baseline calorie “budget.”
- Establishing your maximum oxygen output, or VO2 max, to gauge exercise efficiency and the steps required to move you closer to optimal performance
A CLOSER LOOK
Understanding the power of each of these three elements drives home precisely how critical it is to understand this information and how it affects both your day-to-day life and peak performance capabilities. So let’s take a closer look at each.
- BODY COMPOSITION
WHAT IT IS: Talk of “body composition” means addressing a person’s bone density, muscle mass, and visceral fat. Each of the three can help identify current or potential issues with osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and metabolic syndrome, respectively.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW IT: It isn’t hyperbole to say that knowing your body composition figures may save your life.
- Osteoporosis weakens bones, making fractures more likely. Since such fractures take an increasingly deadly toll as a person ages, making less dense (brittle) bones an urgent issue.
- Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass as a person gets older. It’s a substantial contributing factor to a decrease in strength and mobility. That can lead to falls, which is a dangerous situation for the elderly.
- Metabolic syndrome is a category under which diabetes, cancer, and other ailments fall. A high level of visceral fat — which surrounds your internal organs — is the culprit here.
- RESTING METABOLIC RATE (RMR)
WHAT IT IS: As the term suggests, your RMR reveals your metabolism’s efficiency during non-exertion — in other words, how many calories your body burns when not exercising. A high RMR means your body will burn more calories as your rest (which includes as you sleep). It also means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day and during your sessions at the gym.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW IT: Knowing your RMR is vital to identify how many calories you can consume in a day. Do you need more? Less?
RMR removes the mystery and guesswork formerly involved with setting daily caloric goals; you’ll know specifically what to aim for.
And since your metabolism changes along with your weight, access to follow-up body composition and RMR scans after 90 days will help identify your new health baseline and how to adjust it after achieving your weight loss or gain goals — a continuous health-boosting loop.
- VO2 MAX
WHAT IT IS: The maximum amount of oxygen you can utilize during an intense workout is also known as your VO2 max. Knowing your VO2 max is essential to determining your aerobic endurance.
This is key data for anyone either training for, or helping someone train for an athletic event with an endurance component, such as:
- Triathlons/Ironman triathlons
- Cycling competitions or tours
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW IT: Charting VO2 max is beneficial in preventing injury as an athlete trains. That’s because it marks a person’s level of fitness and allows for a degree of specification that improves the level without taxing the athlete to the point of injury.
PUTTING THE PLUS IN DEXA+
Gathering the essential health data provided by body composition, RMR, and VO2 max testing used to be overly complicated, notably expensive, or both.
Although stopwatches and tape measures still have a place in training, achieving ideal health and performance has come a long way since their heyday.
Now, learning such crucial information requires nothing more than a visit to the medical practices and wellness centers that offer such tests. The tests are affordable and comfortable, with limited or no prep required.
If you’re interested in optimal health and performance, body composition, RMR, and VO2 max is what you must know — now and into your future.