There are many generic guidelines that suggest, for example, that in order to stay healthy and fit, you need to take 10,000 steps per day or to be active 150 minutes per week.
But we’re all unique individuals with unique and complex bodies and lifestyles. So, how can you track the sufficient amount of activity for you, both today and in the longer term?
Also, it’s true that being active does you good, but being too active can also be bad for you. That’s why we at Oura emphasize that activity tracking should provide you with personalized guidance in finding a balance between exercise and recovery, activity and rest.
This article is the first in a series concentrating on Oura activity tracking. You will get to know:
For Oura, activity tracking is not just about calculating steps, miles or calories, but also about guiding you towards your own unique activity and rest balance.
In practice, Oura tracks your activity through a 3D accelerometer that is embedded in the Oura ring. (The ring also tracks your movement during your sleep for sleep analysis). The data the ring gathers includes your daily activity levels and intensity. Equally important is that Oura measures the periods and total length of time you are inactive. This is because according to recent studies, staying inactive for long periods of time is not healthy for you.
In addition to your daily activities, Oura also analyzes your weekly activities, their frequency and volume. So it is not just the daily activity we’re interested in, but your weekly activity balance.
Oura also calculates your total kilocalorie burn, i.e. your total daily energy expenditure, including the calories your body burns at rest. It also shows your activity burn, i.e. the additional amount of kilocalories you burn by exercising, compared to your basal metabolic rate.
If you want to know more about his topic, stay tuned – we will dig deeper into calorie burn calculations in our next activity article!
The Activity Score is an overall measure of your activity, training and recovery balance. It ranges from 0% to 100%, and takes into account both your activity today and over the past seven days.
As said, we are all unique, and therefore there are no universal rules of thumb as to what your activity score should be. A score of 85% or higher indicates that your activity during the past 7 days is on a level in which you gain the associated health and fitness benefits.
However, if you are sick or don’t feel otherwise well, you shouldn’t strain yourself. Consult your physician if you suffer from long-term diseases and are about to increase your exercise load. Remember that you need to properly recover from illnesses before continuing to exercise on your normal levels.
Oura calculates and tracks the following contributors, which play a role in your daily overall activity score.
Long periods of inactivity are detrimental to your health. Frequent movement during the day helps maintain a healthy metabolism. Oura tracks the time you spend sitting, standing or otherwise inactive. The Stay Active contributor indicates your level of inactivity during the past 24 hours, excluding resting or sleep.
If your inactive time exceeds 12 hours, we recommend you to take action, for example, by increasing the amount of short walks during they day. Having less than 8 hours of inactive time raises your Activity Score.
Research has shown that moving 2–3 minutes at regular intervals lessens the harmful effects of inactivity. Your Activity Score will decline if you stay still for several hours per day without interruptions. Oura also reminds you to stretch your legs every 50 minutes if you have enabled this feature in the Oura app settings.
This contributor shows you how often you have reached your daily targets over the past 7 days. Consistency in meeting your daily activity targets is important in maintaining health and readiness – provided that you’re feeling well and don’t suffer from illnesses. The ultimate goal is to meet the targets 6–7 times per week, but we do understand that sometimes this might not work for you.
Studies have shown that reaching and maintaining optimal health requires a mix of lower and higher intensity exercise. The Training Frequency contributor measures how often you have engaged yourself in medium or high level activity during the past week.
To stay in balance, Oura recommends that you get medium or high level activity 3–4 times a week. Do remember that the amount and intensity of training is individual, and that if you don’t feel well, you should concentrate on recovering.
This contributor is similar to Training Frequency but focuses on the total amount of medium and high intensity activity you have completed within a 7-day rolling window – that is, over the past 7 days.
Generally speaking, completing 750–2 000 Metabolic Equivalent (MET) minutes of medium or high intensity activity per week is considered to be a good target. For example, 30 minutes of brisk walking equals to 150 MET minutes.
Recovery is key to improving your fitness and maintaining your health. It is actually during rest when your muscles are repairing and growing. That’s why Oura tracks how much rest your body gets.
In Oura’s analysis, an easy day means keeping the amount of medium intensity level activity below 200 and high intensity activity below 100 MET minutes. In practice this means that you can do a lot of low intensity activities, not too much medium intensity activities (around 30–60 min), and only a small amount of high intensity activities (below 10 min) per day.
Oura also shows you your daily activity target. It bases on your current readiness, as well as your age and gender.
The daily activity target indicates your minimum activity goal for the day. It is converted into kilometers or miles. If you want to know more about the distance calculation, check out the Activity Target introduction.
Even though you can wear the Oura ring 24⁄7, there are some specific situations where you’re either aren’t allowed or cannot to wear any kind of jewellery in your hands. For these cases, there is a manual activity input feature in the Oura app.
As the name indicates, this feature allows you to add daily activities manually to your activity tracking. There is a list of predefined activities available, but you can also add an activity outside the list. In some specific sports, such as cycling, the activity intensity and calorie burn calculation is more accurate with the manual activity input.
There will be a separate blog post about manual activity input and activity intensity calculations. Be sure to subscribe to the Oura Insider and you’ll get the newest articles straight to your inbox.
If you’re interested in tracking your activity and you don’t yet have the tools for it, have a look at the new Oura ring in the Oura Shop. If you have an Oura ring, have a look at our Activity FAQ for more answers or dig deep into your data in the Oura Cloud.
The Oura ring and its proprietary algorithms are a combination of extensive scientific understanding, years of careful research and development work, and top-notch engineering.
In the final moments before the Biohacker Summit 2017 in Helsinki, we had a quick chat with personal trainer, biohacker, speaker and performance coach Ben Greenfield about how and why he uses the Oura ring.