Here’s the Skinny on Body Composition

At this point in life you probably know that body mass index (BMI) is used as one indicator of whether or not you’re “healthy.” There’s always controversy around it.

Is body mass index truly a good indicator for health?

What if I have a lot of muscle?

What if I’m pregnant?

How’s my doctor going to tell me my BMI is too high when he/she looks like they have their own higher-end BMI?

Ifs, ands and buts aside, BMI is just an indicator; a mark in the road to tell you approximately where you are in your health, although it’s not the end-all, be-all health indicator. Like many healthcare analytics, it’s actually only one piece of your health puzzle. It’s just one transaction to keep track of in your health bank account.

BMI, coupled with your weight and body fat percentage, will give you a good idea of your body composition. 

Weight, Body Fat and BMI on the Heads Up Health dashboard

Weight, Body Fat and BMI on the Heads Up Health dashboard

Once you understand your body composition, you’ll understand how you can improve your body so it’s at a healthy level of fat and the other components. But first, you need to track your BMI, body fat and weight.

We designed Heads Up Health to integrate your BMI, body fat and weight data from a variety of different trackers, including Apple Health and Fitbit Aria, plus it has the capability to accept manual entries. If you’re already tracking this data, or you’re about to start, register for the beta launch of Heads Up Health. Until then, here’s the skinny on body composition and what all those healthcare analytics really mean:

Weight

  • What it is: The last few decades have made weighing yourself something you can do in the privacy of your very own bathroom. Your weight is how much all of you — fat, lean muscle and tissue, bones, that spaghetti you just had for dinner, your jeans, your jewelry — weighs altogether. It’s one of the easiest healthcare analytics to track to know if you’re within the range of being healthy or if you need to make some healthy life changes.
  • Why you should care: Research has shown that people who regularly weigh themselves do better when it comes to weight loss progress and success.

BMI

  • What it is: BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. So yes, it is possible for someone to be outside of a normal BMI and still be healthy and not at risk of developing disease because it doesn’t take into account muscle weight versus fat weight.
  • Why you should care: A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fat, which can lead to health problems. Tracking your BMI is an easy way to spot a red flag when it comes to your health — so you can make changes sooner rather than later.

Weight and BMI line graph in Heads Up Health

If you’re a Heads Up Health user, your BMI is auto calculated based on your height (in your profile) and the weight you manually enter or that’s imported from one of your apps or devices.  

Body Fat

  • What it is: Body fat takes into consideration your body size, weight and height. The basic way to find it is to measure your waist, wrist, hip and forearm and enter it into a body fat calculator. Other ways to find body fat include:
  • Why you should care: Especially if you’re losing weight. Keeping track of this healthcare analytic can help you understand what’s going on if your scale isn’t budging; it’s possible you’re losing fat and gaining muscle, and it’s just not showing on your scale.You can easily keep track of this in Heads Up Health. It’s a straight-forward manual entry based off of any of the methods listed above.

Heads Up Health Recommendations

  • Wireless scales: These scales connect to your wifi network at home and can automatically update your weight, body fat and BMI in your Heads Up account without requiring manual entry. We recommend the Fitbit Aria or the Withings Smart Body Analyzer.
  • Manual scales: If you have a perfectly good scale at home or prefer to avoid the cost and complexity of wireless models, you can use any old scale you want. Just enter your weight and body fat readings manually into your Heads Up account. We’ve found the Tanita BF679W to be a highly accurate scale for measuring weight and body fat at a very reasonable price.

Your body composition is yours to monitor and your health is yours to take care of, so monitoring these healthcare analytics can pay off in the long run. If you’re interested in tracking  your body composition data, and seeing how it affects your other healthcare analytics — blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose — sign up for the beta version of Health Up Health. Or, if you’re just interested in staying up-to-date with the latest healthcare, fitness and wellness trends, follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

 

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Technology Helps Us Manage Our Health

We’re entering an era where the patient has more data on his or her health than the physician. Thanks to incredible advances in consumer health technology, we can now easily track everything from how much we exercise to what we eat, how well we sleep or how stressed out we feel. Our technology helps us manage our health.

Wearable devices and smartphone apps have opened new doors to measuring our day-to-day lifestyle choices and activities. We can use this technology and the data it provides to feel better, look better and even prevent disease or illness.

In our previous blog post, Centralizing Your Medical Records, we looked at the first of five core principles of the Heads Up Health software:

  1. Centralizing your medical records
  2. Using technology to self-manage
  3. Improving health through better understanding of your data
  4. Sharing data across your care team
  5. Taking your health data with you wherever you go

In this post, we continue our series on the vision for Heads Up Health’s software by looking at how it integrates consumer health technology. This integration can help you intelligently manage your health and transform the way you look at your healthcare analytics.

Your Healthcare Bank Account

Imagine checking your bank account at the end of the year with no information on individual transactions. Just a single number that shows your ending balance.

You’d probably be scratching your head because you’d have no idea where your money went or how to adjust your spending habits. Any attempts to figure out how you arrived at your final balance would probably involve a lot unreliable guesswork, especially since there’s quite a few studies that show that the human brain has limited memory space and can even trick itself into thinking false memories are real memories.

A once-a-year bank statement is kind of like an annual visit to your doctor. You get the final balance but have no way to quantify how you got there. Maybe your weight went up 10 pounds. Maybe your blood pressure has ticked up, and your cholesterol is higher. Maybe you also tell the doctor you’ve been feeling sluggish, not sleeping well and you’re generally stressed out at work.

Now imagine if you had detailed transaction records for your health, just like we have detailed transaction records for our bank accounts. You could easily begin to quantify your lifestyle and make adjustments to improve your health. With the right tools, your short-term and long-term physical health could be managed just like your bank account.

Heads Up Health helps you track all of your health transactions in one place, so you have a complete record of what’s happening in your body. Considering that chronic diseases make up 70 percent of deaths in the U.S. and that most of them are preventable, having an accurate method of managing your health data over time is a powerful tool.

Optimizing Consumer Health Technology with Heads Up Health

Heads Up Health is designed to help you leverage technology to manage your health in two ways:

  1. Centralizing the data

For all the promise of consumer health technology, one of the major challenges is integrating all of the data in one place. Scales, activity trackers, mobile apps, glucometers and other health devices each maintain a portion of your data in a different location. What’s needed is an integrated health dashboard that can manage all this information in one place.

Heads Up Health solves this problem.

The software integrates data from all the leading consumer health technologies. Connecting your devices and apps into your Heads Up account is as simple as signing into your online bank. For devices and apps that don’t have a supported connection, we support uploading data through CSV files or simply entering the data manually.

Heads Up dashboard

Heads Up Dashboard

  1. Integrating the data with your medical records

In addition to centralizing healthcare analytics, it’s equally important to see that data alongside your medical records. Are my nutritional changes really lowering my cholesterol? Is exercise really lowering my blood sugar? Are my lifestyle changes improving my thyroid function? The only way to answer these questions is if we compare our lifestyle data (which we collect from consumer health technology) with the data in our medical records.

There are solutions on the market to help aggregate lifestyle data from health devices and apps. There are other solutions on the market that can help you centralize your medical records. However, at Heads Up we believe the complete solution needs to include both.

Tracking blood sugar in Heads Up Health

Tracking blood sugar in Heads Up Health

Get Started!

Consumer health devices are quickly becoming highly sophisticated and clinically relevant. The data is also becoming increasingly easy to collect. Heads Up Health is here to help you manage that data, and transform your health. If you’re interested in seeing all your healthcare analytics in one spot, sign up for the beta version of Health Up Health. Or, if you want to stay up-to-date with the latest healthcare, fitness and wellness trends, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

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Stories of Transformation: Bill Schueller

Stories of Transformation: Bill Schueller

At Heads Up Health, we’re looking to transform healthcare for our users; to make the disjointed health care continuum seem a little less daunting and a little more manageable by creating one place where someone can store their medical records, integrate all the data they are collecting at home and share their data with whomever they choose.

One of our beta users that’s helping us all get there is Bill. Bill is a busy professional and father of two. He’s originally from California and he currently calls Frisco, TX his home.

Bill uses our Concierge Service to help him manage all of his healthcare data within Heads Up Health. After a few weeks of using Heads Up Health, we sat down with Bill to pique his brain about the software and how it has transformed the way he views his health.

Heads Up: In your experience so far, what’s been the greatest benefit of using the Heads Up software?

Bill: The biggest benefit is the ability to see all my lab results in one place! Due to a genetic condition, I have to run blood work every three to six months. Over the years I had accumulated my lab results in over 13 different PDFs. Some of the files had over 100 individual tests.

Paper records and PDF files - what a mess!

Paper records and PDF files – what a mess!

The lab’s patient portal only maintains two years of history and their PDF reports only show the last two results. I had no easy way to see all the historical data in one place and compare it with other data I was collecting. Heads Up solved this problem for me and provides a friendly user interface where I can view trends and much more.

Heads Up: Tell us about your experience with Heads Up’s Concierge Service.

Bill: The Concierge Service has been incredibly helpful. I’m very busy with work and family and simply did not have the time to manually enter historical medical records data into my Heads Up profile. I just upload the file and Concierge takes care of the rest. This is a huge benefit for people who are busy and on-the-go and need help managing their health data. Now I just get my labs from Quest Diagnostics which automatically synchronizes with my Heads Up account so I don’t have to worry about data entry.

Heads Up: What other data are you tracking in Heads Up?

Bill: I use the Basis Peak* to track sleep, heart rate, and physical activity among other things. I use a Withings scale for tracking weight and body fat. I also use the iHealth Bluetooth glucometer and pulse oximeter, which automatically upload data into my Heads Up account.

Heads Up: Can you tell us about any specific experiments you’re doing within Heads Up?

Bill: I am currently using Heads Up to help me test different statin and non-statin interventions for cholesterol. I have been tracking physical activity (from my wearable device) to see if it can positively affect my lab results (lipid panels).

Long-term cholesterol tracking in Heads Up Health

Long-term cholesterol tracking in Heads Up Health

Heads Up: How else can we help you achieve your health goals?

Bill: It would be good to have notifications based on analytics that go beyond the usual “exercise more and weigh less.” With this technology it’ll be possible to have more “hey, have you noticed?” type notifications, such as comparing cholesterol results with exercise, and so much more.

Sounds good to us! Thank you Bill!

If you’re interested in seeing all your healthcare data in one spot, sign up for the beta version of Health Up Health. Or, if you’re just interested in staying up-to-date with the latest healthcare, fitness and wellness trends, follow us on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

 

*Although Basis Peak does not have a supported API, Heads Up allows users to upload some of this data in .csv format so it can be tracked their profile.

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Track Your Steps, Improve Your Health.

Track Your Steps, Improve Your Health.

There’s an estimated 100,000 apps for health out there. Think about that. 100,000 ways to track your weight, nutrition, training progress, blood sugar, blood pressure — you name it, it’s probably available. So, whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, you likely have a health app or two on your device.

If you’re trying to wade through all the choices, let’s start with the basics: Tracking steps and calories burned is one of the easiest ways to get started with monitoring your healthcare analytics. Here’s why:

  1. The data is incredibly easy to collect.
  2. The health benefits of meeting daily goals for physical activity are numerous.
  3. Tracking steps is a gateway analytic that can lead to helping you understand other important numbers like your weight, BMI, body fat percentage, blood sugar and more.

We designed Heads Up Health to integrate a pretty long list of activity trackers so you can track activity with all your other health metrics. Can more activity lower your fasting blood sugar? Improve your sleep? Shrink your waist circumference?

Weight management

Apps for health can produce some impressive —  and noticeable — results, especially when it comes to weight management. Say you’ve hit the ripe old age of 30. You’re cruising along: long commutes in the car, working hard at your job, but with your desk job, you’re putting on the pounds, little by little.

Those pounds are creeping on because you’re not active enough. You might feel like you’re active enough, but chances are you’re walking and running around way less now than you were a few years ago, mostly because you’re putting in 40+ hours at a desk.

If you use an app for health or activity device, you can start collecting the data on how much you’re moving. The simple act of having real data on your steps per day can be incredibly helpful for changing your behavior. Only hitting 5,000 steps instead of the recommended 10,000 steps per day? Well, that’s easy enough to fix. Simple things like parking a little further away can be a way to hit your daily step goal and quantify your success each day.

Once you start collecting your activity, you’ll also be able to collect the calories you’re burning each day. And with that, you’ll be able to see some patterns with other information such as weight, body fat and BMI. If you’re not averaging at least 10,000 steps per day, don’t expect any miracles on the scale!

Disease prevention

Beyond weight management, tracking your activity and calories that you burn can help prevent disease — keeping you out of the hospital and feeling good so you can keep up with your busy life. Unfortunately, long commutes, desk jobs and evenings in front of the TV have led to a society where we now spend more time sitting than we do sleeping. One study estimated that between sleeping and sitting, we’re sedentary for 21 hours a day on average!

Excessive sitting time puts our bodies into a metabolically dysfunctional state. In fact, medical professionals are now referring to “sitting” as the new “smoking” due to the increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease from too much sitting.

So, track your activity. Notice when you’re sitting too much. Get your steps in. And help decrease your risk of some pretty horrific diseases in the long run.

Mental health

The phrase “Exercise: Cheaper than therapy” has some truth behind it. Physical activity effectively manages and even improves your state of mind. Walking and running are great for lowering stress, staying productive at work and maintaining an overall sense of wellbeing. Getting up for short walks throughout the day and chipping away at your daily activity goal can do wonders for your mental health. “When in doubt, sweat it out!”

Track your steps, improve your health. It’s that easy. If you’re interested in seeing how your activity impacts your other healthcare analytics — BMI, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, Hemoglobin A1c and more – make sure you have a Heads Up Health account so you can see the big picture when it comes to your health.

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