Uncommonly Powerful New Monitor Amazed Me and Helped Improve My Health

Image courtesy of Oura Health Oy

Want a ring to monitor your health instead of a watch or wrist band? There is one. It is rechargeable, measures sleep quality and duration, physical activity, heart rate and temperature. The developers have an app for the iPhone. You manually input your age, sex, height and weight once. The app software uses this data to generate surprisingly complete report that is live.

I found this device a few months ago when I was looking for a simple device to help me establish healthier daily routines. I was beginning a new lifestyle after leaving the corporate world. I was older, working from home, and supporting a family member who needed attention for a long-term health issue.

Two Popular Devices and a Third

Two devices I knew about were the Apple Watch and Fitbit. Given that I just left the business world, I didn’t need all the stuff from Apple. Health was my focus. So I tried a higher end Fitbit, the Charge 4. It was cool! Did a great job of monitoring my heart rate and workouts. But it was always on my wrist and it didn’t go far enough with the stats and analysis. I returned it during the trial period.

The Oura showed up in my searches for an alternative. I was suspicious of such a tiny device with big claims. Their focus was mainly on sleep but included plenty of both data and analysis for exercise and something they call Readiness.

It includes a full report on sleep stages, periods for each stage and totals. These are: deep, REM, light. And it displays them in color and both graphically and numerically. It also calculates and displays: latency, restfulness, and efficiency, and displays timing (best time to go to bed).

Heart rate is recorded and displayed. The latest app also has a button to press to get a reading on your actual heart rate in real time.

HRV (Heart Rate Variability) is also calculated as both momentary and average. The app shows it as a trend as well. This trend, the company says, shows whether you are becoming healthier, declining, or remaining the same. Their claim is supported by a range of health experts.

Image courtesy of Oura Health Oy

My Experience

I purchased the Oura Ring and wore it day and night. The reports were not just interesting but useful. They helped me through a very difficult period and are continuing to assist as I’m taking on new activities with an improved daily routine.

My interest in these gadgets was to resolve trouble with my sleep, blood pressure, nervousness, and occasional exhaustion. My sleep was frequently disturbed by events beyond my control, especially random noise in the house and from a nearby highway. Also, the exercises on which I depended for years were no longer available. The pandemic resulted in our local fitness club closing and the nearby options were limited. Basically, I felt the wonderful sense of freedom leaving me and stress building. I was free from daily corporate work and ready to move to a new home a few hundred miles away and not dictated by employment, but circumstances interfered.

The pandemic first resulted in Realtors in some states being ordered to stop showing houses for an extended period. Unfortunately, these included the states in which I was interested. Then the outbreaks across the country discouraged travel to see homes in another state, both before and after we had a vaccine. The outlook was challenging.

Takeaway

My results were excellent. I established a walking routine on a nearby trail that gave me all the exercise I needed. I also identified what was interfering with my sleep and found ways to manage. My blood pressure became consistently lower and my energy level rose nicely. I also learned that I was pushing myself harder than necessary. I found that I could take a nap at times when it didn’t interfere with anything and my energy level bounced back.

The naps reminded me of a time when I was in the military with an insane schedule. I learned to take “power naps” when I could and they worked wonders.

The ring proved useful in identifying areas where my life was becoming unhealthy due to physical and emotional stress, and in restoring balance. It is easy to wear and I usually forget it is on my finger. I am wearing the black “stealth” model. It is their lightest. The price was higher than I preferred, but was in line with Apple and Fitbit, and less than some of those.

Note — Oura introduced a new ring this fall that has an improved battery and more sensors, and more memory. I hear that it is also great for predicting periods. The company is introducing new capabilities via firmware and software. Since I have had the ring, I have received several updates with each one adding capabilities. Seems Oura has built extra sensors into the ring that are being activated as the software is completed and tested.

Also, I have no relationship with the Oura Ring company.

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Writer, inventor, maker. Member of startup. Applied physics, electronics, microbiology.

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Mark Senninger

Mark Senninger

Writer, inventor, maker. Member of startup. Applied physics, electronics, microbiology.

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