Step Off The Scale: Are You Healthy, Really?

The majority of us have developed a love/hate relationship with our scales. Whether traditional or digital, they all seem to deliver rather disappointing news. This is evidenced through the infamous New Year's Resolution to "lose weight," the well-rehearsed proclamation that accounts for the sudden spike in gym cameos during January.

However, meticulously tracking the numbers on the scale isn't necessarily the best indicator of overall health and fitness. In some cases, those 10 extra pounds may be good for you and your total poundage doesn't take into account proportions of lean muscle mass and bone structure, nor does it indicate cardiovascular well-being or lack thereof.

According to SecondAct, there are other numbers you should be tracking and paying attention to in order to assess overall fitness. These often overlooked digits include your waist size, milligrams of sodium intake, blood pressure, how many steps you take and how many pull-ups you can complete.

Apart from obtaining a tape measure and being able to count your pull ups, when it comes to tracking the other three factors, (not surprisingly) there's an app for that. The iBP Blood Pressure app for iPhone ($0.99) allows you to track your blood pressure through routine input of your diastolic and systolic pressure. The app will then generate bar and line graphs of your readings, while coding input into "high," "low" and "average" categories. (For those ready to invest, iHealth BP3 blood pressure monitor ($99.95) comes with a dock and cuff to use in conjunction with an iPhone or iPad).

iTreadmill Pedometer app for iPhone ($1.99) and CardioTrainer for Andriod (free) both not only counts your steps, but allow you to track average pace, distance, and calories burned. The Sodium One app for iPhone displays your daily sodium budget and allows you to browse restaurants and supermarket brands, along with common food items to tally up daily sodium intake.

What's the best way to use this data? Staying Healthy At 50+ goes over a checklist of what to ask your doctor at your next checkup. Use these questions to prompt discussion around the information you've been tracking to receive medical insight in conjunction with other factors, such as your family medical history. Perhaps it's finally time to change that recurring resolution from "lose weight" to "get fit" once and for all.