Measure Health – Important Tips, Tools, and Tactics for Your Progress

Did you set yourself new health goals at the beginning of the year or are you pursuing your permanent goals? In addition to the top topics of losing weight and building muscle, topics such as increasing concentration , sleeping better or better well-being are worth striving for.

If you set yourself goals, it is advisable from the outset to set specific, measurable, attractive and realistic goals that you want to achieve at time XY.

To do this, you need at least some good reference points with which you can record your initial status and your progress.

Therefore, in this article we would like to show you the best methods to continuously analyze your health in the best possible way.

Note : We have a matching episode in our podcast for this post. You can hear them here (or go straight to Spotify):

A few thoughts in advance

Fitness trackers, watches, body fat scales, apps and other health trackers have become increasingly important in recent years . New and improved devices come onto the market every year.

This is exactly why this article was so important to us and we want to help you get an overview of the common tools and values . The tools for measuring health and the associated data are a billion dollar market and not every tool delivers what it says on the tin.

In this article we will show you which tools are relevant and how we can use them for ourselves . We stay true to our motto Fast, Simple, Healthy and consider the following to be important:

  • Health trackers are a great way to collect valuable data about your health.
  • It is therefore advisable to use new technological advances for the benefit of your own health.
  • In the long term, however, we shouldn’t hand over all responsibility and transfer our awareness to technical devices.
  • The goal should be a meaningful interaction , so that you maintain and train a healthy self-perception and intuition (more on this at the end) and let new technology flow in every now and then.

By the way, our autonomous nervous system is itself a master of health data .

It monitors all data in and outside of your body around the clock and adapts accordingly. Temperature, heart rate and blood pressure are measured and controlled subconsciously.

Technical devices only make this visible and help us if something goes wrong. Fascinating, isn’t it?

A brief glimpse into the history of health data

Humans have always analyzed and checked their health (and illness) 

Hippocrates of Kos (460 BC – 370 BC) is considered a pioneer here and has already made the diagnosis of health four centuries BC. Minted. He propagated the medical history and the inclusion of questions about living conditions and the psychological situation of the patient. Back then, health data were still very original (colors, smells, states of tension in tissues).

With increasing scientific and technological advances, we have been able to use more and more data to assess health and disease. Blood pressure devices, EKG, body fat percentage and blood values are common parameters nowadays. Scales for measuring body weight and determining BMI have long been part of our everyday lives.

What has happened in the last two decades is an increasing shift towards the independent use of such devices. Initially, these were mainly given to the patient to monitor the treatment of illnesses (blood pressure monitors, blood sugar sensors, migraine diaries, etc.).

In the course of digitization , new possibilities opened up. We can now easily collect our own data about our health using smartphones, smartwatches and various test kits .

(By the way: I don’t want to go into the data protection issue at this point, as it would go beyond the scope of the article. You decide for yourself what you use and what not.)

What should definitely be mentioned positively about the current development is that today’s health trackers have less of a negative-oriented approach with regard to diseases, but rather a precautionary and optimizing character . They are a valuable addition to classic (important!) Clinical diagnostics .

This is a big step towards preventive health care, which can certainly motivate many people to be more conscious about their health.

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An important goal: use intuition and the 5 senses

Using science and technology for health – makes sense and also do more than you realize.

But at the same time, intuition and the 5 senses are important:

  • Intuition: how do you feel? What is your body telling you? Does something hurt? Over the years you will learn to interpret the signals of your body with more mindfulness and self- awareness .
  • 5 senses: You will receive a relatively large amount of important health information even without technical devices. Also use them to keep an eye on your health:
    • Skin: how smooth is it? Is it greasy, sebum, prone to eczema, pimples or dandruff? Is it light and smooth?
    • Chair: what is the color, consistency, shape? How much is “stuck on the toilet paper”? How does it smell
    • Urine: what is the color like?
    • Dark Circles: Are They Puffy? Are they hanging? Are they brownish-purple in color?
    • Lower lip: is it thick and swollen? (Indication of colon problem)
    • Tongue: Busy in the morning? If so, green or yellow?
    • Fingernails and Hair: How Fast Do They Grow? Are they dry, brittle, brittle?
    • .. . (these are just a few examples)

Ten useful values ​​and trackers for your health

We would like to take a detailed look at the most important values ​​and measuring devices for your health and introduce them briefly. Which are there, which make sense, which are gimmicks?

First of all: Many will now think: “No one needs measuring devices and the latest technology!” – you may already use many of them yourself, so be open:

# 1 weight and tape measure

The measurement of body weight is probably the most common variety. A quick look at the scales is almost routine in the morning for many people.

In this context, the BMI can also be determined, but this is not always meaningful. For example, I have a BMI of 26 and would therefore be slightly overweight. Due to my sport, however, more muscle mass is responsible for my being a little heavier – so no need to worry.

In addition to the scales, Martin A. also uses the measuring tape to get an impression of the body composition. Typically, the circumference of the waist, hips and neck can be used for assessment and the body fat percentage can be derived. You can find two free calculators here.

# 2 body composition

In addition to the scales and tape measure, there are other ways to determine body composition.

The body fat percentage is certainly the most interesting for this (see measuring body fat percentage ). Additional values ​​of body composition are muscle mass and body water.

The body fat percentage can be derived from skin fold measurements. With a caliper you can measure different skin folds and use a calculator to measure the body fat percentage.

Body fat scales are certainly more suitable for everyday use for most people. Using electrical resistances, they measure the composition of the tissues in the body. The most accurate are scales that measure using electrodes on both hands and feet and also determine muscle mass and body water .

Unfortunately, the accuracy does not come close to methods such as bio-impedance analysis (BIA), DEXA scan or hydrostatic weighing.

I myself have used BIA analyzes for a long time , which are used by very good fitness studios and nutritionists.

Here you can see my values ​​from 2016:

Measurement of body composition using bio-impedance analysis. By September that year I had lost a lot of body fat and built muscle. The longer vacation in France in September was not very beneficial 🙂

the body fat scale can also be recommended for normal everyday life . I myself have also had good experience with the Omron body fat scale * , which has additional handles and thus includes all body segments in the measurement.

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# 3 blood pressure

It is useful to measure your blood pressure on a regular basis in order to gain an initial insight into the health of the cardiovascular system. Even if you rarely see a doctor, a regular assessment makes sense.

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Our blood pressure depends on the flow properties of our blood, the performance of the heart and the properties of the blood vessel walls . Therefore it is and will remain an important health parameter.

Using blood pressure, it is possible to measure the effects of changed eating and exercise habits, as it adapts very quickly. For example, if you constantly drink too little and then improve your drinking behavior, it is possible that your blood pressure will improve quickly.

# 4 heart rate and heart rate variability

Heart rate and heart rate variability are also two important parameters for determining your performance.

The heart rate is not only important for training control in endurance sports. The resting heart rate is often used to gain an overview of the performance of the heart. You can use it well to measure progress in endurance training.

The heart rate variability (HRV) is increasingly being used as a data source. It indicates how economically your heart works and how flexibly it can react to stress. The intervals from heartbeat to heartbeat are subject to minimal fluctuations over time at rest. As a result, the cardiovascular system is only able to use as much energy as necessary (it then works in an energy-saving manner). With increasing physical exertion, the intervals between heartbeats become increasingly the same.

A high HRV is a sign of a healthy heart and competent handling of stress . Stress , lack of sleep, illness or insufficient regeneration after training can lead to the HRV falling progressively. It can thus be used as an important parameter for assessing performance.

Moritz analyzes his heart rate as well as his sleep (based on the HRV) with the help of the Oura ring and can thus reconcile his training and regeneration. By the way, mediation and good sleep are the best ways to naturally increase HRV. Exercise lowers the HRV in the short term, but has a long-term positive effect.

A look into Moritz’s Oura dashboard. The different phases of sleep and the resting heart rate are shown.

# 5 blood work

There is great potential for our health in measuring our blood values . From personal experience, we were able to achieve the best results for better health, performance and well-being.

We have already written a lot about nutrient deficiencies such as vitamin D deficiency , magnesium deficiency or omega-3 deficiency in this magazine. Since up to 90% of the population is nutrient deficient in at least one vitamin or mineral (most commonly vitamin D, omega 3, and iodine), accurate analysis is important for anyone looking to achieve real health .

The blood test for vitamins and minerals is rarely used preventively in medical practice. Therefore, personal responsibility is required here : You have to actively ask your doctor to measure certain values. You have to pay for these tests yourself; in very few cases, the health insurance company pays for this.

An optimal solution that we use ourselves is a blood test at home . The Lykon myHealth & Fitness blood test * measures the most important blood values ​​such as magnesium , omega-3, vitamin B12, vitamin D, blood sugar and much more.

It is very easy to do by taking a few drops of blood from your fingertip. You send the sample to the partner laboratory with the corresponding shipping envelope and you will receive all results including recommendations clearly presented – a look inside yourself, so to speak.

Here you can see an extract from my Lykon blood test. I was able to remedy my vitamin D deficiency step-by-step.

We value Lykon as a long-term partner and you can benefit from our 15% discount . Simply enter the code GESUND15 in the shopping cart and get the test much cheaper.

# 6 blood glucose testing

I would like to explicitly highlight the findings that are possible with the help of blood sugar measurements. Martin A. and I had both been wearing a blood sugar sensor on our upper arm for two weeks to analyze the influence of diet and exercise on blood sugar levels.

A stable and moderately low blood sugar goes hand in hand with a healthier (energy) metabolism, higher concentration and better sleep. Our hormonal system can also cope better with this than an hourly uphill and downhill ride in blood sugar levels.

In the two weeks we have gained important insights into how our blood sugar reacts to certain meals and foods, training sessions and stressful situations.

For example, I noticed that I had severe hypoglycaemia around 1 a.m. and that my sleep was disturbed. Without a blood sugar sensor, this knowledge would have been difficult to achieve. Since then, I have been eating a spoonful of coconut oil before going to bed and drinking ginger tea with apple cider vinegar and honey , which keeps the blood sugar level stable at night. Since then I have slept through the night and am noticeably more relaxed – thanks to the technology!

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Here you can see some profiles of Martin A. during the month and day.

Average daily values ​​over 2 weeks

A normal day (you see the meals?)

Ouch – the blood sugar fell very sharply here at night.

 

# 7 fitness trackers or wearables

Fitness trackers have been the star of the last few years and they can be seen on many wrists in a conspicuous and inconspicuous form.

They record heart rate, HRV, step counts, sleep behavior and much more. The data can also be visualized via the app and synchronized with other parameters such as body weight, etc. This gives you an all-round view of activity, calorie consumption and your fitness.

Moritz used a Fitbit tracker for a long time and used it to control his running units. The Fitbit Inspire tracker has the best price-performance ratio and measures activities such as running, cycling or swimming, as well as sleep and heart rate.

# 8 sleep tracker

There are many ways to measure the quality of your sleep outside of a sleep laboratory (albeit in a simple form).

We have had good experiences with the Oura ring and sleep apps, with the Oura ring providing more precise data because it is attached directly to the body.

Sleep apps like Sleep-Cycle measure your sleep using sounds and the underlying activity patterns. I used this app myself for a long time. But I could never exactly trust the data. It also bothers me to have my cell phone next to the bed. But it can be interesting to test this app for a few nights.

Many fitness trackers also have a sleep tracking function that uses HRV and wrist movements to analyze sleep.

# 9 nutrition apps

Apps can be very helpful for analyzing and controlling your eating habits.

I tracked all of my meals with MyFitnessPal for about six months . To do this, I simply entered all the food components into the app, which then determined the macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) and the amount of calories . This enabled me to adjust my diet in a targeted manner.

The six months were enough for me to get a comprehensive knowledge of food and now I have a relatively good assessment even without the constant tracking. That’s why I can definitely recommend such apps, albeit for a limited time.

In connection with your knowledge of your daily calorie consumption (e.g. through a fitness tracker) you can control your calorie balance quite simply and precisely and thus achieve rapid progress in losing or gaining weight.

# 10 More apps and tools

There are many other ways to measure your health and performance, which I would like to mention here:

  • Training apps such as to control activities such as running, cycling etc. (e.g. Strava)
  • manual training logs and diaries (strength training, endurance training and other sports)
  • Diaries and journals such as the stay tuned journal * (with the stay tuned journal you can track your habits every day, very simple but incredibly effective)
  • Urine and Skin pH
  • Measure ketone bodies

The heart of the matter: what makes sense?

Since we want to give you the best possible knowledge about lived health, we have of course tried many methods ourselves and determined a lot of data about our health. This helps us to give you authentic health tips.

Therefore, I would like to give you a best-of of the article or recommendations for action at this point :

  • Less is more: Find the method that brings the most added value for you. For 95% of people, this is a comprehensive blood test. We recommend the Lykon myHealth & Fitness Premium * (now use the 15% discount with code GESUND15).
  • Don’t let yourself be stressed: The compulsion to over-optimize is widespread – believe me, I speak from experience. With new tools in particular, there is a tendency to check the data every minute. This creates unnecessary distraction and stress. The best thing to do is to agree times with yourself when you measure the data collected, e.g. morning, noon, evening – if you use the fitness tracker.
  • Use tools only temporarily: With many tools it is sufficient to only use them for a certain period of time. It was completely enough for us to measure the blood sugar every 2 weeks. The findings were sufficient to draw important conclusions from them.
  • Sticking to it: When we have achieved a goal (or not), we often lose sight of sticking to it. That is why it was a great advantage for me to also use non-technical tools on a daily basis. I have been using different journals for years. The  Stay Tuned Journal * is so far the best that I am currently using.
  • Feedback: A simple form of health tracking is your reflection. Can you smile at yourself in the mirror in the morning? Then everything is fine. Your friends and family are also a “mindful tracker”. Those who embark on the path to health often quickly receive positive feedback: You look good or how did you manage to maintain this figure? is the most valuable feedback for most!

And especially important: Maintain yourself and train yourself to be good at self-awareness. In the first step, such health trackers can help to understand your body. You should always compare the data obtained with your individual condition. This will give you a good impression of your body in the long term.

Health data and evaluations often work with mean values – but we humans are all different individuals who can not be “standardized” . Just because 95% of people strive for a BMI of less than 25, it can be that you feel completely happy and beautiful with values ​​above – your well-being is always decisive in the end !

Trust your intuition!

I wish you success

Which options do you prefer to use? What did we forget? Feel free to write it in the comments! We look forward to your ideas and experiences.

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