I am a part of yet another research study at the University I work for. This research study involves working out at least 3 days week for 30 minutes (check!), and recording that activity. You get your blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and heart rate taken at the beginning, and the end of the study. You also have to do a mile walk at the beginning and end of the study. Basically the researchers are looking to see if healthy living (physical activity) has an effect on your heart. A “perk” of being a participant in this study is that I had the option of getting my body fat percentage measured. Our University exercise science lab has a Bod Pod, which uses air displacement to determine your body composition (fat vs. lean body mass). The Bod Pod is the second most reliable device for measuring body fat percentage. The most reliable is underwater weighing. Before doing the test, you have to refrain from eating and drinking 2 hours prior. Yes, that was a challenge for me! You also shouldn’t workout before doing the test (whops, I accidentally did!). The device is pretty cool, it looks like an egg! To do the body fat measuring, you have to wear spandex (so I wore my swimsuit), then you just sit inside the egg, and the pressure changes inside it. During this time, you just have to relax and breath normally. The machine also uses the volume of your lungs to determine your body mass. For this, you can either use the “predicted” amount for your height/weight, or you can actually breath out into a tube.A year and a half ago (August, 2012), I had my body fat percentage measured, so I thought it would be good to get it checked again to see if it had changed. When I was tested last time, my body fat percentage was on the low end of “ultra lean”. Since being tested in 2012, I have lost 5 lbs, so I was a little concerned that my body fat percentage might be too low now. This was one of the reasons I wanted to check it again. I was surprised to find out that my body fat actually increased by 3 percent! I’m not sure why this happened. Perhaps my body fat has increased, which would be good, but it doesn’t make sense because I look significantly more lean than I did in 2012. Another possibility for the discrepancy is in 2012, they had me breath out to measure my lung volume and found it to be much higher than the “predicted” value. However, when I had it tested yesterday, they just used the “predicted” value. So that may have affected it.
Anyway, I was just glad to find that I hadn’t gone to the “dangerous” zone of too little body fat. How about you other athletes? Have you ever had your body fat percentage checked? I recommend it if you are looking to become more healthy by beginning a workout program, or if you are a regular athlete and just want to see what your body composition is!