Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with Oura or any other of the wellness technologies or services I write about other than as a user.
A bit of context
A friend was telling me her ex-husband [yes, it suddenly seems as if I am spending a lot of time with divorced women!] who is a man, younger than me, apparently healthy in every way, had a near-fatal heart attack…and that he then got COVID and lost a lung. Another friend’s husband calmly informed me over dinner that he had a heart attack on the treadmill at the gym–it was almost as if he was proud, and here he was having just come back from a gruelling run through the foothills of a volcanic island. And I am so healthy, never sick, never COVID despite all the people around me dropping one by one…And there is this primordial fear in me that something will go wrong, that I will be felled, that I am living on borrowed time. I want to live forever, or at least to live well, for as long as I possibly can…
The cutting edge
My wife is on the leading edge of wellness “technology”. With everything from “grounding” to oxygen chambers, she seems to hear of it and start talking about it, and doing it, before anyone else does.
She told me about the Oura ring years ago, only I didn’t pay attention. There are just so many things to keep track of.
During the early stages of the COVID pandemic, if you recall, we were all running scared, swimming in a sea of misinformation and speculation. I was in the US at the time, and it seemed that getting sports back online was one of the key issues that society was grappling with. After all, the masses need to be entertained, right? Especially during a total lockdown! We can’t be denied our dose of NBA! Amiright?
Well, I read this article in the papers about how the NBA was using this ring, called the Oura ring, and that the ring read all these vitals which gave a kind of early warning on whether you were going to come down with COVID. That included oxygen saturation in the blood, body temperature, and a bunch of other stuff. I was intrigued. Oura.
I got one of these rings and was quite proud about too. I told my wife, thinking she would think I was cool to have such a fine, advanced piece of wellness technology. “I’ve had one for a year,” she scoffed, and she showed me.
Well, the Oura ring has proven to be one of my most cherished wellness devices. It does all the things that I want from an Apple Watch, but of course is far more discreet—it is a ring, after all, not a watch. So, no it doesn’t tell time. It also doesn’t vibrate or ping, or interrupt or annoy or do all the things that an ADD mind really needs—distraction. Nope, it just sits there quietly on your finger, stays charged for days, and quietly keeps track.
Of what? Well, it keeps track of sport activity—so all of my various runs and other sports, and it is just as limitless as the apple watch in terms of the types of workouts it tracks. And it seems to do so just as accurately. It does sync with the iphone and android devices, so you get all of the data tracking in your phone. I like to keep track of workout and steps and estimated calorie burn and this ring does it all just fine.
So, apart from keeping a charge for over a week v. an i-Watch that can’t keep a charge for 24 hours, and keeping track of steps and exercise and all that, what does it do?
Well, there is a benefit in specialisation. You see the Oura ring has been designed to keep track of a very small number of things that are believed to be critical to longevity and wellness…and yes, it acts as a kind of early warning, or just plain old warning system for when things are good or when they are out of balance.
First off, sleep. It keeps an incredibly accurate look at your sleep pattern—timing, duration, nature of, and overall quality. According to most, sleep is quite possibly the most important thing of all when it comes to wellness—that it is regular, long, and deep. It is sleep that helps us let go of our stress—yet also it is stress that keeps us from our sleep.
Talk about a suitable partner in tech for one of the BDSM threads coursing through my life–early enforced bedtime. This is a kinky habit that has a massive silver lining–energy levels, productivity, mental health, physical well-being…and Oura keeps the score. Imagine that my daily “readiness” which is a function of good living habits were to become a reward/punish system? Now that sounds like fun…of the best kind.
But the Oura ring also goes one step further. It notices how quickly your heart rate calms down as you drift off, and how long it takes you to become fully rested, and by some quirks or intent in design, it picks up when you drank too much, or ate too much, or overindulged before going to bed. Specifically, the ring reads and tells you what interfered with a perfect sleep.
Now, one colleague of mine scoffed at the idea—“I know how I slept; I don’t need some $500 ring to tell me.” Well, it isn’t quite that expensive. But seriously, how many times do you get up and think you are a bit worse for wear but through the day find out that you really weren’t? That happens to me all the time. And so, yes, I find it quite enlightening to see how ready I am for the day ahead based on their scoring system.
The ring boils it down to one number, on a scale from 1-100, the Readiness Score, which gives you a simple view of how you are doing. I find this quite useful because although I like to exercise every day, if the ring is telling me to take it easy, then I don’t push quite as hard…and ditto for when it tells me I can push it.
Of course, the ring does other things, a series of calculations all focussed around this concept of readiness, that help you self-diagnose what might be getting in your way of living a healthy and low-stress life. Perhaps most importantly of all? It gets you thinking about it on a daily basis. But it does so without all the bells and whistles of other devices.
It’s a pity they can’t add the other things I monitor so vigilantly right now–water consumption for example. But I guess that hydration levels should be something that are measurable–just a matter of time.
I read a recent review of the Oura ring which gave an only 50:50 review. But I am amused how people expect a gadget will deliver the result–as in, I buy the ring, and I sleep better. That isn’t the way life works. The ring is a diagnostic tool, but the strength to change comes from within, comes from you, from us. Most of us know what we need to do, know what things to change, and yet we don’t do it. Why not? Because we don’t really know what we want. Or maybe the things we care about it are not consistent with the things we do. So, the Oura ring is not going to save your life. But it might just help you to reinforce good habits, which will in turn save your life.
So, there you have it…the Oura ring is my tech partner on my wellness journey. What’s yours?