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Learning body compostion can help achieve goals

If you are looking to improve your health, performance or appearance, you need to understand and measure your body composition. Learning about your body composition can help you achieve your goals.

Body composition tells you how much of your body is fat, and how much is lean tissue — muscle, water, bones and organs. This lean tissue is metabolically active, which means it burns calories all day long. The more lean tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn even at rest. Knowing your fat percentage can tell you whether you need to lose fat, gain muscle or both in order to achieve your fitness goals.

Several methods can be used to test body composition, some more accurate than others. The Jamestown Regional Medical Center recently purchased a new dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry machine in the radiology department. A DEXA scan is essentially an X-ray that shows you the components of your body. It will calculate the amount of lean tissue and fat in each of your body regions as well as overall. This can help you pinpoint areas of your body in which to focus your training. The test is very informational with colored graphs and images. I recently had a DEXA scan done at JRMC and was very impressed with the information provided and the knowledgeable staff, as well as the ease and privacy of the scan itself.

Another method available through the JRMC Wellness Center is a skin-fold assessment. In this test, a fitness professional will measure seven specific sites on your body with a slight pinch and a skin-fold calipers. I say pinch, but this test is also quite pain-free.

For more information on the DEXA, call the JRMC Radiology Department at 952-4852. For more information on skin-fold assessments, call JRMC Wellness at 952-4891.

If you prefer a more embarrassment-free avenue to test your body composition, you can visit http://www.brianmac.co.uk/fatgirth.htm. Using a flexible tape measure, you can take girth measurements to predict your body composition. Note, that this method is not as reliable, but it does a good job of showing you exactly where to take the measurements on your body and provides a user-friendly calculation.

Your challenge for week six of the New Year, New You Wellness Challenge is to test your body composition or have had it tested in the past 6 months. It is important to receive regular body composition tests to manage your progress. Earn 15 bonus points this week for having your body composition tested in the past 6 months, or have an appointment for an upcoming test. The results may surprise you.

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