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How DEXA Scans Can Help Measure Fitness Progress

29th May, 2022 | Published by Saltzer Health

DEXA Machine

When people are working towards a fitness goal, they often only measure their success by using a scale to determine how much weight they’ve lost or gained. Thanks to Dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan imaging technology, you can now get the exact ratio of fat, muscle, and bone in your body. DEXA finds that hidden belly fat within your body. This visceral fat surrounds your organs and cannot be measured with basic calipers. It also provides an excellent baseline for individuals on a weight loss journey as a starting point. That means the analysis of your results will automatically suggest the amount of fat you should lose and the quantity of muscle you could gain to be at peak health. Three-to-six-month follow-up scans can track your progress and keep you motivated.

The DEXA scan, is normally used to measure a person’s bone density, but since it can also show the amount of fat, muscle, and tissue around different parts of the body it’s being more widely used by athletes and people trying to better track their fitness progress.

“Weight can fluctuate for a variety reasons so it’s not always best to be the only measurement of a person’s fitness and health progress,” said Brian Van Mason, lead radiology technician at Saltzer Health’s imaging center. “A DEXA scan can see the amount of muscle and fat in a precise area of the body allowing for a detailed measurement of progress.”

Patients don’t just use this system for tracking weight loss. Van Mason says athletes use it to measure muscle growth in areas they need improvement, while others use it to track needed weight gain.

“We have athletes who come in trying to increase the size of their legs or arms and the scan can show them if their workout routine is giving them the desired results,” said Van Mason. “Even if someone isn’t seeing the results in a gym mirror, a DEXA scan can show the percentage of muscle growth on the body.”

To do a scan, a person lays on a table and an x-ray arm takes images over the top of their body. The process only takes about five minutes, and the results are instantly available to the patient. Depending on how a person wants to track their progress they will want to receive a follow up scan in about three to six months.

Normally insurance doesn’t cover the cost of the scan but it’s only around $50. For more information on a DEXA scan or to book an appointment click here.

Saltzer Health Imaging