Weight is one of the most important health concerns people face today. Most of us have heard the CDC’s warnings that several common causes of early death, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer are linked to obesity. While weight management involves a whole lifestyle of good habits, one integral piece is weighing yourself. You need a bathroom scale.
When you’re not happy with your body or your weight or your progress in managing it, stepping on the scale sucks. I want to convince you that getting a smart bathroom scale, one that’s wirelessly connected to an app that helps you track your weight, is not only going to help monitor all the pounds in your household, but also has the potential to make your whole family happier about doing it.
What Is a Smart Scale?
A smart body scale is an electronic bathroom scale that measures weight and other body composition metrics, and then sends them wirelessly to an app or online service that automatically records the data.
Those other metrics generally include body fat, body water, and often body mass index (BMI). Some of the metrics are readings while others, like BMI, are estimates based on calculations that take into consideration height and sex, too.
A smart scale costs anywhere from about $39 to $179. You don’t have to buy the most expensive model to get something good. PCMag’s favorite smart scales, the QardioBase Smart Scale and the Withings Smart Body Analyzer both list for about $150, but it’s worth noting that we’ve also reviewed several other perfectly good scales that are available for about $100. The Health O Meter Nuyu Wireless Scale retails for half that, and it’s a decent, if basic model. It does, however, lack a pregnancy mode, which is a cool smart scale feature (as I’ll explain), but one that may or may not matter to you personally.
What Do Smart Scales Do?
The primary job of a smart scale is to record your weight and other metrics in an app that lets you see your history of weight change over time.
Multiple people can use the same scale, making them perfect for a health-conscious family. Most scales differentiate each person based on their prior readings. If one family members weighs around 160 pounds and the other weighs 140, the scale quickly figures out who is who. If two people have close readings, the scale or app usually asks the person being weighed at the moment to confirm his or her identity. It’s usually as simple as lifting one foot slightly off the scale to say yes or no, that is or isn’t me.
A smart scale helps a family organize their health initiatives because it makes the tracking effortless. No one ever has to write down the details of the weigh-in because the tracking happens automatically. The most you have to do is make sure the scale’s batteries are still going strong.
Recording all the weigh-ins automatically is a huge benefit to everyone in the household for reviewing weight history. But it can also be extremely helpful to a family physician or other health care provider who might want to see your family’s weight trends, too. If someone in your family suddenly gets ill and the doctor asks if there have been any drastic changes in weight, you’ll be able to tell.
Benefits of Using a Smart Scale
Beyond tracking weight, there are other benefits to using a smart scale:
1. You don’t have to look! Like I said before, stepping on the scale sometimes sucks. When you use a smart scale, you don’t have to look if you don’t want to. The weight will still be recorded in your app, and you or your doctor can look later. Long-term trends are at least as important as the daily numbers.
2. Pregnancy and post-pregnancy weight-tracking is much easier. A lot of people don’t like facing the numbers of their weight, but imagine how much worse it could be if your body’s hormones are fluctuating during or after a pregnancy. One of my favorite smart scales, the QardioBase, has a pregnancy mode that hides your weight from appearing on the scale while still recording it in the app. This mode also disables the body composition features, which pregnant women (as well as people with implanted devices, such as pacemakers) are often told not to use.
3. Smart scales can increase motivation. If you and your family like technology, incorporating a smart scale might actually make it fun to start tracking weight, or at least motivate them to start. Having a new toy in the house could give everyone the boost they need to start stepping on the scale every day.
4. Kids can learn good habits. If everyone steps on the scale every day, and there’s a record to prove it, kids will pick up on what it means to create a habit out of their weight-management practices, and creating good habits is key.
5. They typically pair with fitness trackers. If you already use a fitness tracker, buying the companion smart scale will give you much more insight into how your activities, sleep, and food intake affect your weight. Currently, there are scales that work with trackers made by Fitbit, Garmin, Polar, Withings, Nuyu, and Pivotal Living.
Adding a smart scale to your own or your family’s weight-management plan could help give everyone the boost they need to get those daily weigh-ins done. Developing positive daily habits is hard, but it’s a little easier when you have a new device to play with while doing it.