It seems like everybody has one. Sometimes we can even get sentimental about the bathroom scale buddy that we grew up with. But have we been using it correctly? Were those dated, creaky scales of our youth even capable of being used correctly? As we get older, wiser and… um, wider, we also wonder if bathroom scales are effective on our body type. So before we toss the old bathroom scale, or make friends with a new one, let’s find out how to correctly use a bathroom scale for all body types.
Are bathroom scales accurate?
They’ve come a long way from the analogue, metal squares that sat in the corner of most bathrooms. Digital scales are now the norm, and they can be very accurate. But don’t discount an analogue or assume the digital variety must be more accurate.
It’s important to do your research and that’s precisely what Consumer Reports did. They found that the top four digital scales they tested were accurate within plus or minus 1 pound from 97 to 100 percent of the time. Conversely, a cheaper, analogue model they tested was only that accurate 13 percent of the time. However, all test items were at least good at repeating the weight they’d measured and even the less pricey analogue was consistent in its inaccuracy.
Unfortunately, the body fat analyses that many modern devices offer tends to be horribly inaccurate.
What about older scales?
Components can wear out over the years causing weight results to be as much as 10 percent off either way, even with digital models. Bathroom scales older than four years can begin to show signs of this inaccuracy.
What should you look for in a bathroom scale?
Obviously, an accurate device would be the most important quality, but it’s not like you can do a lot of long term testing in the store. Some other factors to consider are:
- Readability -- calling someone inside the bathroom to read the results of your weighing for you is not ideal at best; humiliating at worst. Movement on a scale can affect its accuracy, so select a readout that you can see clearly when standing tall, still and straight.
- Platform size -- make sure you can stand completely on the scale and not lose your balance or obscure the readout.
- Multiple user tracking -- for couples or families, the ability to track previous weighing results by specific individual could be a nice feature.
- Capacity -- the scale won’t deliver you results if it’s not designed to work with your body type. Most bathroom scales cover up to 300 pounds.
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What’s the best way to use a bathroom scale?
The first thing to remember is that your body weight is remarkably inconsistent throughout the day. You can retain water or experience other factors that cause your weight to fluctuate.
- Weigh yourself at the same time each day.
- Use the same scale to weigh yourself each time.
- Wear the same amount of clothing, or be consistent about not wearing clothing.
Your mileage may vary when it comes to fat analysis accuracy, but here are some tips that might help.
- Use fat analysis as a progress indicator; not an accurate measurement.
- Make sure you select a scale that has the correct setting for your body type. Athletes will most likely require a scale that has the ability to work with that body type profile.
- Measure yourself at the same time each day.
- Consistent room temperature when measuring because your skin temperature affects the electric current used for analysis.
- Clean footpads will ensure better conductivity.
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But don’t become an addict. A quality scale is a great tool when trying to lose weight or stay healthy, but it’s only one component to what should be a multipronged approach. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other professionals for the most accurate information.