Self-Tracking: What the Science Says

The following is a summary of the scientific literature on the effectiveness of tracking and quantified self tools. This page is a continuous work in progress. If you'd like to suggest an article, please email us here.

Note: Reference in this site to any specific author, organization, method or results is for the information and convenience of the public, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Fitnescity.

Why Measure RMR Rather than Use Predictive Formulas?

The Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) is the rate at which the body burns energy when it is at complete rest. It indicates the number of calories the body needs to perform basic functions like breathing and circulation.

Predictive formulas have long been used to "measure" the RMR because an actual measurement through Indirect Calorimetry has not been practical. But the truth is, while predictions might hold their ground statistically, when applied to individuals, they are woefully inadequate.

The Science Behind Exercising in the Sunshine

Today is the vernal equinox, meaning it's the #FirstDayOfSpring in the Northern Hemisphere.

While indoor exercise environments can be easier to control and predict, especially with regard to the weather, outdoor exercising has a lot of benefits that cannot necessarily be replicated in an indoor environment. Here's a roundup of some of the research supporting that.

Body Mass Index (BMI): Definition and Limitations

The Body Mass Index (BMI) or Quetelet index is a value derived from the weight (i.e. mass) and height of an individual. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in meters. 

The BMI is an attempt to quantify the amount of tissue mass (muscle, fat, and bone) in an individual, and then categorize that person as underweightnormal weightoverweight, or obese based on that value. 


Surface-Based Body Shape Index

The Surface-based Body Shape Index (SBSI) was proposed by West Virginia University computer scientists Syed Ashiqur Rahman and Donald Adjeroh as an alternative to BMI.

The study examined data on 11,808 subjects from the National Health and Human Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 1999–2004.

The study concluded that SBSI outperformed BMI, waist circumference, and A Body Shape Index (ABSI) as a predictor of all-cause mortality. 

However, the study did not specify the recommended healthy ranges for SBSI.

Body Scanning

Today anthropometry can be performed with three-dimensional body scanners. 

Once a scan is taken (a 40-second process), the scan data is used to generate measurements, along with a three-dimensional view of the body. 

The output of whole body scanners is a cloud of points, which are typically converted into a triangulated mesh. This step is used to support the 3D visualization of the surface and the extraction of meaningful anthropometric landmarks and measurements.