People are becoming more invested in self-care than ever. From juice fasts and step-counting to video games designed to trick you into exercising, new health trends and products surface every year. As technology continues to advance, we can take our health and wellness to the next level.
While once relegated to hospitals for medical and research purposes, DEXA scans have become more accessible and commonplace. You may have seen fitness influencers using scans to customize their workout plans. A DEXA scan is an imaging test that measures bone density as well as body composition, including body fat and muscle mass. It offers a comprehensive overview of your general health, and the results can be used a few different ways.
DEXA scans are able to measure calcium and other minerals in your bones to calculate bone density. This helps determine your risk for osteoporosis and fractures as you grow older. Osteoporosis causes bones to become very thin and brittle. It usually affects older people and is most common in women over the age of 65. Results compare your bone density to that of a healthy 30-year-old, the age when bones are at their strongest. The lower your score, the weaker your bones.
Knowing your risk level of osteoporosis can allow you to take preventative measures and make lifestyle changes to increase bone strength if needed. Your practitioner may recommend you take vitamin and mineral supplements to take in more calcium and vitamin D. Weight-bearing, resistance, and balance exercises also help to strengthen bones.
DEXA scans also measure body composition, and results break up your muscle mass and body fat into percentages. Common fat estimate devices, such as BMI, Bioimpedance, Bod Pod, InBody, tape measures, and hydrostatic weighing, can be misleading. DEXA scans give you the most accurate and precise measurements of your body composition.
Scans can be helpful for anyone looking to optimize their workout and nutrition plan with precise measurement and tracking, including dieters, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or bodybuilders.
An initial baseline scan lets you see exactly where you are when you start, then track how much body fat you’re losing, and how much muscle you’re gaining. You can learn what works best for your body then make adjustments if your plan isn’t delivering the right results. For athletes, scans also reveal muscle asymmetries, which can increase risk of injury when exercising.
Additionally, DEXA scans reveal the presence of Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT), the dangerous fat around organs. Visceral tissue raises your risk for serious medical issues, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and high cholesterol. You can use the results of your DEXA scan to identify personal long-term health risks, and be proactive in making life changes to improve your health and reduce your risk for chronic diseases.
The Big Picture
DEXA scans encompass a lot of information, and it can seem overwhelming. But knowing how to utilize your results serves a valuable purpose in bringing a deeper understanding to your personal health. Whether you’re looking to take your fitness to the next level or take preventive measures to reduce your risk of chronic disease, it’s important to invest in your health and take care of your body.