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Abstract

Purposes were to (a) to examine the validity and precision of a hand-to-hand bioelectrical impedance analyzer (HBIA) and (b) to determine the effect of an acute sub-maximal aerobic exercise bout on HBIA percent body fat (%BF) measures. Forty-one young adults (21 women; 20 men) visited the laboratory for body composition assessment on two separate occasions. During the control session, %BF was assessed by HBIA twice, before and immediately after 30 min of rest, and once by air-displacement plethysmography (ADP), using the BOD POD, which was considered the criterion method for comparison. During the exercise session, HBIA %BF measurements were determined prior-to and immediately after 30 minutes of moderate-intensity treadmill exercise. HBIA significantly underestimated %BF in the total sample (mean difference (MD) = 1.4 ± 4.3%) and, when examined by gender, in the women (MD = 2.4 ± 4.1%). The standard errors of estimate (range 4.1-4.3%) also exceeded the recommended range for accuracy (<3.5%). Following exercise, there was minimal, but statistically significant reduction in HBIA-measured %BF pre- to post-exercise for the total sample (19.6 ± 6.0 vs. 19.3 ± 6.0%; p = 0.011). HBIA underestimated %BF when compared to ADP and the individual prediction error exceeded current recommendations when assessing young adults. In addition, performing sub-maximal aerobic exercise prior to the assessment decreased the %BF estimate. When one factors the exercise-induced alterations with the currently observed tendency for HBIA to underestimate %BF, it is apparent that exercise may further reduce the accuracy of this method.