Wearable Tech - Whoop or Oura
Posted on 26th September 2022 at 12:07
Wearable technology is possibly the most rapidly expanding part of the health and fitness market. It has evolved from a simple step counter to today where we have a multitude of trackers covering many different types of activities and many different purposes.
The first point I would make is that it's very important to understand what you want to get from your wearable device. Are you looking for an activity tracker, a step counter, a sports tracker or are you looking for a health, recovery and sleep tracker?
My own personal journey with wearable technology started with huge resistance some of which is still present. That resistance has to do with the increased exposure to electromagnetic radiation from the device. Fundamentally human beings have not evolved as healthy specimens with the amount of electromagnetic radiation we are exposed to at this moment in history and my view, be it controversial or otherwise, is that we are currently in an experimental phase of our evolution when it comes to the amount of electromagnetic radiation we are surrounded by.
This is not a blog post to go into that subject but it is an area that I think needs consideration, particularly if your goals for wearing a device is to improve your health and wellbeing.
I started with a very simple activity tracker, tracking my steps, my heart rate and not a lot more and immediately I became aware of what I believe is the single most benefit of wearable technology. That is that it gives you a daily monitor of what you're doing so you cannot cheat yourself and you cannot kid yourself, whether the tracker is particularly accurate or not. I remember my first device used to boost my steps quite radically when I mowed the lawns on a ride on mower! The accuracy and the validity of the device comes from as much as anything else the fact that you are using the same device on the same person.
It might look awesome but does it actually change behaviour?
THE very key point in any health coaching or effort to change health, that makes all the difference – it can help you change your behaviours!
As things have evolved we now have activity trackers which can measure your sleep, your heart rate, your body temperature and as well as the number of steps that you're walking, the speed that you're walking. If you look at your iPhone now you will see that it will measure your balance as you're walking, your stride length and your left foot versus your right foot balance which is a very interesting concept and something I'm looking into more at the moment.
So having come from a position of reluctance, I have to say that I do very much benefit from wearing the device. I think there are three key benefits that people can get; the first one is that there is a motivational element. If we purely look at your steps then you can look at your step counter at lunchtime, you can look at your step count in the afternoon and see where you are relative to where you want to be or think you should be. You then have time to change that and change your behaviours.
It is the very key point in any health coaching or effort to change health, that makes all the difference – it can help you change your behaviours!
Wearable technology always affirms, reaffirms or confirms one way or the other whether you are actually as fit and active, as healthy or as well recovered as you think you are. It takes away subjectivity almost completely and therefore it gives you an accuracy that you can rely upon to inform your decision-making. It is then a question of using that accuracy to change your habits and achieve your goal.
One of the things I've found with my latest device is that I get better sleep scores when I eat earlier in the afternoon. Now, I'm still not 100% convinced or sure of the biochemistry as to why that is the case but that is the information I am being given and it's up to me to interpret that information. The fact of the matter is that it has helped me to eat earlier on in the day, I'm trying it and I'm trying to learn about the impact that has on my health and on my sleep quality .
In looking at Whoop vs Oura we are very much looking at the health tracker side of the market and it is my understanding that these are the two market leaders in this fieldat this time. I will share at the end of this article some web links to other websites where they have been more specific in comparing the pros and cons of each one.
To cut to the chase I chose the Oura simply because the payment plan was a purchase option versus a monthly subscription. I won't go into prices here because depending on when you read it, it is highly unlikely to still be accurate. So I went with the Oura which is a ring as you will have seen some from some of the pictures. Oura gives you a app, as they all do, and as your ring syncs with your phone all the data is uploaded . Oura gives you three primary scores: a sleep score, a readiness score and an activity score. It then compiles all of the data to give you weekly reports which you can track from one week to the next .
One of the downsides to wearable technology is the sheer volume of information that you can have at your disposal and understanding how much of that to use and how much of it to ignore. Before I bought my Oura I was advised by a client to confirm your own feelings about the scors you expect before looking at the numbers. So when I log on in the morning and I check my scores, before I actually see what the app is telling me I will ask myself what scores I expect based on how I feel. I think it's really important to use the information to back up how you think you're feeling rather than to be a slave to the information itself.
Within the sleep score section you can find times of when you went to sleep, the quality of sleep, your heart rate, your heart rate variability (which is actually something that's emerging as a really key metric to health) and Oura have recently updated their offering to include an O2 saturation. On the readiness section Oura measures your activity levels, compares it with your rest & recovery and gives you an indication of how ready for exercise you are from one day to the next. It's been very interesting for me that this has been one of the most challenging things to adapt to. We all tend to have an exercise plan and we want to stick to X number of workouts a week , Y amounts of cardiovascular work and a certain number of flexibility sessions, so it takes a bit of adjustment to actually go off your body's readiness rather than the plan that you've prescribed for yourself .
From an activity point of view, I've got my ring setup to measure goal progress in calories. I don't pay a lot of attention to that and I don't really use it to monitor my steps but I do look at my score on a day-to-day basis. Interestingly the one thing it has very much identified for me (and which has taken a bit of getting used to but also helped me to understand why I am perhaps not as full of energy as I think) is how I am more active at weekends than in the week. I tend to workout in the week and thought my weekends we re active rest and relaxation aiding my recovery yet when I look at my activity tracking through the app and the intensity of that exercise, my weekends are significantly more challenging and more physically active than my weekdays.
So whilst I may be working out harder during the week, the work I'm doing at the weekend is actually burning a lot more calories and putting a lot more load on my body.
As I said at the very beginning I very much recommend that you understand exactly what you want to get from any wearable gadget and make sure that the device that you are choosing will fulfil the role.
I hope this has provided some insight into the world of wearable technology? Please do checkout some of the links below if you if you're more interested in further information and leave me any comments at the bottom.
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