A Fitbit for your Finger


By Elan Paulson

A number of FIFI bloggers have discussed the merits and problems of fitness trackers. Wearable trackers can help folks to monitor exercise, but they also track, store, and potentially share private health data. These gadgets are slick and high tech, but their wearers can focus on the numbers rather than on the feel of exercise, during and after. They can reward–but also pressure–building a life around 10,000 steps per day.

Despite their issues, more and more people in my life are getting them. I held out on purchasing a wrist fitness tracker because watches and bracelets irritate my skin and get in the way of my keyboard. But when I heard about a 6-gram titanium OURA ring that tracks activity, sleep, and more, I caved. I don’t know how the many sensors works in this smart ring. I just know what’s happened so far for me.

Going Dry for Better Sleep

I normally sleep for hours and hours, anytime anywhere like a cat (or a sloth). It has been a source of pride, but since getting the Oura the ring’s app reports that I am consistently only getting half of the nightly recommended “deep sleep” levels. Not enough deep sleep can negatively affect memory, cell regeneration, and energy levels. 

The Oura’s app gives advice when it tracks sub-optimal levels. It has been tested to provide relatively accurate sleet data. So, I am now following its advice by going without alcohol for a month (for the first time in my life, I will add) to see if this lifestyle change affects my sleep pattern for the better. 

More Housework for Staying Active

Oura reports on activity levels, activity frequency, and daily activity goals. There have been numerous folks who have compared trackers (sometimes coming out better, and sometimes coming out worse), and even compared Oura to itself. It’s not the best or the worst of the bunch.

My Oura stays happy with me when I move often, and one of the easiest way to keep moving on a regular basis while I am working from home is to take 5 minutes stretch and housework breaks. I have never (in my life) been a regular cleaner, but here I am tidying tidying, every day.

Smaller Wearable for Game Play

After a beautiful time playing scrimmage over the summer, I’m back playing indoor rec soccer. At our game on Thursday our ref stopped the game to tell my teammate she had on “illegal equipment.” It was her wrist fitness tracker. She had to remove it before the game could resume. I just put my hands on my hips, Oura out of sight, then kept playing.

Later this season, we have all been told no jewelry. But, with some tape it stays safe and out of sight. 

Sensors for What I am Not Sensing

A month ago, for a few days, I inexplicably became incredibly sensitive, grumpy, and overwhelmed. For days, I just wanted to cry, rage, and sleep. No specific physical symptoms to indicated I was sick. What the heck was wrong with me?

My Oura noticed that my temperature was consistently elevated. So then I noticed. I followed its advice went a little easier on myself, physically but also mentally. Then, whatever was going on with me passed, and so did the temperature spikes.

Overall

My last attempt at wearing a step tracker revealed I was more motivated by people than by numbers alone. And, there are still the dependency and data risks. But right now–with only a few months into having the Oura–I have an empty bar fridge, a clean house, and a tool that can help me pay greater attention to my emotional health.

I have the Generation 2 Oura ring from this Finnish company (of the same name). The new Generation 3 ring (available now!) comes with more and newer sensors, and new features, including period prediction. So, I might just be asking for the Gen 3 for Christmas.

Do you have a fitness tracker or an Oura ring? What are your experiences?

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