I was very excited to see an Oura ring on Prince Harry’s finger last week, how very exciting! I’ve been wearing an Oura for the last 18 months and it is a fabulous bit of kit!
Primarily, it’s a tool for assessing recovery. It’s a bit of a nerd-gadget and goes way further than the more well known Apple Watch and Fitbit. If you love information and playing around with the actions you take and seeing the response your body has, Oura would be fun for you, and seeing the results of your good efforts in ways other than on the scales could be a really engaging way to make proper lasting changes to your lifestyle.
Oura has an excellent ability to track your sleep duration and quality (apparently it is as accurate as the information you would receive from a sleep lab) and from your recent sleep quality, it suggests whether today is a good day to push yourself to train hard, or whether you should concentrate more on recovery activities.
Sleep quality is exceptionally important, considerably more so than most of us realise. Focusing just on the weight loss aspect; reduced sleep quality over time leads to less sensitivity to leptin (the hormone which helps us feel satisfied by our meals) and also an increased glucose response to the food we eat; which will lead to weight gain. Good quality sleep will reduce our risk of health issues and diseases from dementia to heart disease. Fairly obviously, good sleep will improve our memory and recall and allow us to be more present in conversations. Who wouldn’t want all of these benefits from sleep! Being able to quickly see how our actions affect us is massively useful – I have been able to experiment with various things, and have found the earlier I eat dinner, the better my sleep quality is, and that if my bedroom is cool I’ll get more deep sleep.
Overnight, the ring will track your heart rate, and it’s interesting to see the patterns this goes through each night – different patterns can suggest different things too. The earlier in the night your heart is able to go into ‘recovery mode’ (when your heart rate reaches its lowest), the better your body has recovered from the day before. Oura also tracks your heart rate variability which is an assessment frequently used by athletes these days in order to monitor the stress load on the body. The ring will also track your body temperature and your respiratory rate, all adding to the picture of the stress your body is under – low stress equals a great day for getting a good workout done, high stress equals a good day to go for a gentle walk or swim. There are several research papers showing that, despite a likely slightly reduced training load, people who train on well-recovered days and not on under-recovered days do not see any difference in fitness and strength in the long term than those who push though regardless.
There is an activity tracker as part of the ring, but really, this isn’t the main point of it – although it is great to have a guide as to how much you should move today, and to have a reminder when you’ve sat down for too long!
I love the Oura and find it a really useful gadget to show me what my body thinks to what I’m doing. Being able to see results so quickly and easily shows whether what you’re doing is useful or if it doesn’t work for your body. If you are driven by information, you might find the different focus leads you to the results you’ve been hoping the scales-watching would lead you to.