All About My DXA Scan, 3D Body Imaging, and VO2 Max Test

Recently, I kicked off Simon Hill’s Longevity Challenge with a DXA scan, a VO2 Max test, and a 3D Body Scan.  Read on to hear about my experience, the results, and how these tests may benefit you.

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The DXA Scan

I did the DXA scan first.  This was the easiest because all I had to do was lie there as still as possible for 6 minutes.  I pretty much just meditated the whole time.

A DXA scan uses low level x-rays to show your body composition (fat versus lean mass).  This includes how much visceral fat you have and your bone density. 

Let’s start with the good.  My body score was an A, which put me in the “optimized” category.  My body fat was 24%, right on target.  The T-score, which measures bone density, was +0.10, which is just above average.  Since “average” is based on a 30-year-old woman, the technician said my bone density is solid (pun not intended).  On a non-health-related note, the scan confirmed that I am, in fact, 5’3”.  My husband has doubted this for years, so this was quite possibly my favorite measurement of the day.

Moving on to where I can improve, the scan recommends I put on at least 4-6 pounds of muscle.  As for my visceral fat, I had 0.6 pounds of it, whereas the target is 0.  While anything less than 1 pound is considered safe, under 0.5 pounds is optimal.  

One thing to note: My feet showed bright red on the scan (red = fat).  If you’ve seen my feet, you’ll know this is NOT where I hold fat.  The technician said even small movements can cause this, so it’s possible I moved them before the scan finished.  This may have caused a slight discrepancy, but the technician assured me the results would still be accurate.  

The 3D Body Scan

Next, I did the 3D scan.  A 3D body scan measures everything, and I mean everything. Measurements include the circumference of every major body part, as well as my height and weight.  Like the DXA scan, it gives you your body composition, except less in depth.  It only shows your body fat and lean mass percentages.

The technician had me hop on, and I wish I’d done more research ahead of time about this scan.  I stood so awkwardly with my feet over the markers. If I’d known it was measuring my balance and posture, I might’ve stood more like a normal person and less like a newborn foal.  

The technician had me extend my arms down to grip two adjustable bars.  Then I stood (awkwardly) while the platform revolved in a full circle.  The body composition results were comparable to the DXA scan, although it calculated my body fat at 23% (maybe the difference was my antsy feet 😜).  Again, my height was a glorious 5’3”, which I have to reiterate purely for when my husband reads this.  YOU WERE WRONG, HUSBAND!

My wellness report gave me a body shape rating of 71, where 50 is average. The higher the score, the lower the risk of cardiovascular-related issues.  On the chart, my score put me in the green “ideal” section. Same with my waist-to-hip ratio, another indicator of potential health issues.

One area of potential improvement was my basal metabolic rate (BMR).  You know those people who burn a billion calories just existing?  Well, that’s not me.  To improve this, I can build more muscle (are you starting to notice a pattern?).

The VO2 Max Test

Finally, I did the VO2 Max test.  A VO2 Max test measures your fitness level by putting you on a treadmill while wearing a blood pressure cuff and a Darth Vader mask.  The technician said they do this last because people hate them afterwards.  You start at rest and slowly work your way up through speed and inclines until you reach maximum effort.

For someone who only runs once a year at most, this wasn’t as bad as I expected.  My VO2 Max score put me in the “superior” category.  Now “superior” is their word, not mine, but that didn’t stop me from calling everyone I know to relay this to them.  According to the technician (but I’m happy to repeat it), I’m at the fitness level of a division 1 athlete.

My cardio exercise is mostly walking, and I aim to walk about 2 miles every day.  I also love to dance. Sometimes I’ll do Tracy Anderson’s dance cardio, but more likely, I’m throwing my own dance party in the kitchen.  Otherwise, my workout routine is 30-45 minutes of the Tracy Anderson Method 6 days a week. While this is more focused on muscular structure, I’m sure it has cardiovascular benefits as well.

How does this help you?

Listen, we know our bodies better than anyone, but sometimes we need data to back us up or wake us up.  I lead a mostly healthy lifestyle with a bit of “f*ck it” thrown in once in a while for pure joy.  My test results reflect the way I live my life. At the same time, they confirm what I intuitively knew as I approached 40.  It’s time to focus on building muscle, which means incorporating more weights and focusing on my protein intake.

While I’m sure my healthy lifestyle contributes to my VO2 Max results, it’s good to know I can be physically fit without having to run, swim or bike.  I want to be able to run away from bad guys, but otherwise, I prefer to saunter.  I want to be able to swim to shore if my boat capsizes, but otherwise, stick me on a floatie with a cold drink in my hand.  Don’t even get me started on biking; my crotch says no thank you, we don’t want any.

I’m glad to have these results so that as I reach different life stages, I have a baseline.  To conclude Simon Hill’s Longevity Challenge, I’ll go back in 3 months for the VO2 Max test and 3D Body Scan.  Since I’d prefer to avoid the radiation of the DXA scans until I want to revisit my bone density, these two tests are enough to gauge improvement.

Finally, if you’re interested in having these tests done, look for the nearest Dexafit location. It cost me approximately $200 for all three tests combined. Note: these tests are FSA/HSA eligible.

2 thoughts on “All About My DXA Scan, 3D Body Imaging, and VO2 Max Test”

  1. Jen, this is fascinating (and hilarious… as per usual)! 🙂 I really appreciate your sharing with us and very much celebrate all of the hard work that led to your test results. Many thanks to your badass Superior 5’3″ self! Cheers and breakout kitchen dance parties for you!

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