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Nobody gleefully steps on a set of bathroom scales. You approach with apprehension, think featherweight thoughts, close your eyes, step on and hope. There’s no escape from the number in front of you. While in the past this figure might be ignored or mentally edited, the latest in smart scales means embracing the scales as a gadget for good!
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What are smart bathroom scales?
Think a combination of friendly, easy-to-understand apps and a range of statistics that take into account more than just weight. Using a modern set of scales can really help you hit your health, wellness and fitness goals. As well as weight, smart scales can now tell you how much of your body is fat, muscle, water and bone. They can even recognise which member of the family is standing on the scales at any given time. This means your hubby doesn’t skew all your hard work in the gym!
All your data is then sent to an app either using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Then you can easily track your progress over days, weeks and months and pick up fitness tips from experts. You can even get encouragement from other members. Many leading brands such as Garmin, Fitbit and Nokia offer a complete health package. This includes various fitness and heart rate trackers, sleep monitors and even blood pressure monitors. That way you have all your personal data together.
It sounds complicated – and mildly terrifying to start with – but in truth, the more you use it the better you can understand your own health, and realise there’s more to wellness that just weight. The bad news? There’s no quick fix – you still need to put in the hard work. Give it time though and you’ll start to build up a picture of your health and learn what works (hint: cheese isn’t the answer). You’ll see where you can improve, and you don’t have to be a fitness freak to appreciate the difference a smart scale can make.
Best bathroom scales
1. Nokia Body (iOS, Android)+ – Best for bathroom scales for all-round health
Nokia entered the health tech sector when it bought Withings, and the Body+ is one of the first branded products. You can track weight, BMI and fat percentage figures. It’ll even give you a visual weather report as you stare, bleary-eyed at your toes. It can also monitor muscle and bone mass and your body’s water composition. Battery life is an impressive 18 months and connecting it to your smartphone is refreshingly simple.
The most impressive feature for us is Nokia’s Health Mate app. This gorgeous app works smoothly, looks great and the Dashboard section shows all your vital statistics clearly. A quick click through takes you to graphs displaying your progress, and you can also import more data like heart rate or steps – using Apple Healthkit. You can link with Runkeeper, MyFitnessPal and Nike+, even Nest smart home products (though, we’re not sure why!).
We loved the ability to set Activity Alerts which remind you to do everything from stepping on the scales to having an after-dinner stroll or grabbing a piece of fruit at lunch. A selection of programs you can follow include a five-day healthier heart program, a 44week Pregnancy Tracker and Sleep Smarter mode. This uses data from Nokia’s new Sleep Sensor to get you a better night’s rest.
Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Nokia Body, £90, Amazon
2. Fitbit Aria 2 (iOS, Android) – Best bathroom scales for health statistics
By using its own Wi-Fi hotspot, setting up the Aria 2 is seamless. The scale, as well as being able to record up to eight different users, can measure weight, BMI and fat percentage. It can then upload all the data to your Fitbit account. One of its strengths is the number of compatible Fitbit products that each feed their data into the same app. If you start running using a Fitbit Alta HR your heart rate data (amongst other stats) will also be added to your overall health profile.
It’s a good-looking set of scales with a bright screen that displays a surprising amount of information. It often took a while to analyse all the data and didn’t always upload it to the app very quickly, but accuracy is excellent. By being Wi-Fi not Bluetooth connected you don’t have to take your smartphone to the bathroom.
If you’ve already invested in a Fitbit device the Aria 2 is a great add-on. It will help you to better understand and achieve your fitness goals. With lots of tips – and video workouts for you to follow – it’s a great source of motivation. Plus, you can join millions of other Fitbit users in one of the largest online fitness communities.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Fitbit Aria 2, £119.99, Amazon
3. Tanita RD-953 (iOS, Android) – Best bathroom scales for dieters
Billed as ‘the world’s most extensive smart scale’ Tanita has packed on the features with these bathroom scales. It will record 10 body measurements, including the usual BMI, fat percentage and actual weight. But it also records bone mass, basal metabolic rate (BMR – the amount of energy you expend each day when at rest), visceral fat and muscle mass. It’ll even rate your physique…eek!
It’s an impressive, albeit terrifying, list of statistics to the average person looking to shed a few kilos. In reality though, this is a set of scales for the fitness nerd who loves to know precisely how healthy they are. It’s also a lot to pay for a set of scales and if you’re a beginner I’d keep clear. Your data is transferred using Bluetooth and while not the easiest to set up, it was consistent and reliable.
Tanita might not be a brand you’ve come across much, but it has a long reputation in the professional health industry and class-leading accuracy. Unlike Fitbit or Nokia, while easy to navigate around, the My Tanita app wasn’t the most insightful. While it was nice (well, sort of) to see all my health data on display I needed more information as to what I should do with it.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Tanita RD-953, £159, Amazon
4. Qardiobase 2 (iOS, Android, Kindle) – Best bathroom scales for designer bathrooms
Smart, stylish and designed to be as least intimidating as possible, this is a cute set of scales (choose black or white glass). They can show you the cold hard facts on a huge LCD screen, using weight, BMI, Body fat percentage, muscle, bone and water composition data. Or they can swap kilos for emoticons with smiling, frowning or passive faces, all the while uploading data to the smartphone app.
This set of scales links nicely with Apple Homekit data and you can share results with the Map My Fitness apps. This is handy for runners and calorie counters alike. Qardio also offer their own range of health trackers including a blood pressure monitor and ECG reader. When you step on the scales you also receive haptic feedback (a little vibration) when your data has been captured.
We were pleased that the scales are rechargeable (up to 12 months use) which means fewer batteries need throwing away. We found the smart emoticons a really nice way to start the day. That’s assuming we’d been good the day before. We also loved the fact that in the pregnancy mode – which tracks mum-to-be each week – you’ll always get a happy emoticon, whatever your weight.
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Qardiobase 2, £129, Amazon
5. Garmin Index Smart Scale (iOS, Android, Microsoft) – Best bathroom scales for runners
Anyone already into their fitness tech will be familiar with Garmin and their vast range of running watches and fitness trackers. If you see someone who looks like they’ve run a marathon before breakfast, chances are they’ve got a Garmin on their wrist. So the addition of the Index Smart Scales complements the already excellent fitness tracking options available.
Thanks to its huge LCD display this smart scale is the easiest to read. It boasts a huge amount of personal health information including body water, muscular and skeletal mass measurements. It provides the more typical weight, body fat and BMI figures. All this information is seamlessly passed to the Garmin Connect mobile (and desktop) app over Wi-Fi.
Here you can pick apart your statistics using a suite of graphs and charts. If you’re a runner you’ll absolutely love it, but if you’re dieting it might be a bit much. That’s not to say it should be avoided by beginners and casual ‘wellness’ users. It also has sleep tracking and step counting analysis alongside weight and BMI. All things being well, the more your step graph goes up, the more your weight graph goes down.
While the scales are accurate, and you can get lots from your weekly weigh-in, it’s the combination of fitness tracking and app that really impressed me. As well as tracking your training progress, the app has a number of expert training plans. These will fill your phone’s calendar with workouts and rest days. It’s a brilliant way to motivate you!
Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
6. Salter Curve Bluetooth Smart Analyser (iOS, Android) – Best value bathroom scales
Salter is a name more associated with baking cakes than burning calories. But this set of Salter scales has loads of impressive features, a huge screen and a bargain price. It uses Bluetooth to send your vital statistics direct to the MiBody smartphone app. This can track weight, body fat percentage, body water percentage, muscle mass, bone mass, BMI and BMR.
The MiBody App is extremely simple to use, which should make it appealing to beginners. We like that you can easily set yourself goals, from reducing your waist size, to dropping weight and increasing muscle mass. But we would like a bit more help deciding what those goals should be and some more motivation.
You can watch your progress over time and compare results to recommended ranges which is great. You can also choose different modes if you’re a child or a regular athlete. There’s not much in the way of third-party integration here. You can add Apple health kit data to the app for a broader picture of your health. However, Salter does sell a blood pressure monitor which will help you get a better overall idea of your everyday health.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
7. Terraillon Easy View (iOS, Android) – Best bathroom scales for easy reading
On the face of it, the Easy View is another set of expensive scales packed to the hilt with healthy statistical analysis. But, unlike the rest is has a removable display screen that can be positioned somewhere a bit easier to read. This could be a big bonus for anyone with bad eyesight. The display is actually very sensible, and also has a digital timer. This means you can set it if you’re keen to always brush your teeth for two minutes or need motivation to get out of the shower!
Like many others on test the scales track weight, BMI, fat percentage, muscle and bone mass as well as body water composition. It’s up there with Garmin and Nokia, although, for the high price, I’d be inclined to go with their more established fitness ecosystems. The Wellness Coach app is also nicely designed with plenty of graphs and charts for stat-lovers.
It also offers sleep tracking options and a lovely traffic light system that makes choosing and (hopefully) hitting weight goals confusion free. There’s also a few other compatible gadgets available. These include My Diet, a connected kitchen scale that helps with potion control.
Ideal Home’s rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Buy now: Terraillon Easy View, £79, Amazon
Why do I need a set of smart bathroom scales?
Modern bathroom scales are helping to change the way people think about health. By embracing this new technology, you can learn more about your own body and not just be hung up on your weight going up or down. By collecting data on your weight, fat percentage, bone and water mass etc, you can see how your efforts are rewarded over time and learn what works for you. The evidence – both good and bad – is there for you to see.
Smart scales make it easier for you to embrace a new health regime. With the generally excellent companion apps that come with the scales you can set up your smartphone to send you reminders to do more (or eat less!), encourage you and keep you motivated. Combined with a little determination you’ll be surprised by what the latest fitness tech can help you achieve.
How much should I spend on a set of smart bathroom scales?
You can pick up a basic set of Bluetooth connected ‘smart’ scales for around £40, but it is probably worth looking at the bigger brands such as Nokia, Fitbit and Garmin that offer more in the way of expert help, larger user communities and a wider selectio of alternative fitness gadgets. The Nokia Body is an excellent enrty level model that costs £59.99, but in general you’ll need to budget £80-120 for all the best features.
What does all the health data mean?
All the scales here can measure your total weight and display in either kg, lb. or stone. For all the advanced health data you need to have bare feet for the sensors to work.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
This is the ratio between your weight and height – you’ll input your height into the app when you sign up. It’s a pretty standard indicator of overall health, but most health professionals now want more data to assess an individual’s health.
Your bone mass won’t change day to day, so this isn’t a figure you need to worry about that often, but if you notice a change over several months it could be worth investigating further.
Body Fat Percentage
Body Fat Percentage is the proportion of fat to the total body weight. We all need some fat, but too much can damage your long-term health. Reducing excess levels of body fat can directly reduce the risk high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes even some cancers. Too little body fat may lead to osteoporosis in, irregular periods, even infertility.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
The daily minimum level of energy or calories your body requires when at rest (including sleeping) in order to function effectively. Increasing muscle mass will speed up your BMR. A person with a high BMR burns more calories when resting than someone with a low BMR.
This is the weight of muscle in your body, and as your muscle mass increases (through exercise) the rate you burn calories increases which increases your BMR. This helps to reduce body fat and weight in a healthy way.
Body water (%)
You lose water continuously throughout the day, especially when you’re exercising, so it’s important to keep hydrated. If scales measure this, it can recommend you take on more water which can make you feel better.
What else should I know about smart bathroom scales?
How do smart scales work?
If your scales offer more than just weight or BMI measurement it will be using a small non-harmful electrical impulse to measure impedance (electrical resistance) in different tissue types. You need to be bare foot for the sensors to work, but step on and you’ll get a pretty accurate estimate of your body composition.
Are smart scales accurate?
By far the most accurate way to measure body fat is using traditional calipers and the dreaded pinch test, but that generally requires a doctor’s appointment. The accuracy of smart scales depends a lot on the consistency of the user – if you step on at the same time each day or week, wearing the same amount of clothes the results will be accurate to you, and even if they’re not as accurate as a professional health assessment they will still show you general trends and changes over time.