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I used to hate fitness trackers. Then I tried the Oura Ring

Oura Ring

I have never owned a wearable. I write about tech every day. I can practically recite all the benefits of the Apple Watch, Galaxy Watch, anything Garmin, etc. But owning a wearable has never enticed me -- until now. I tried the Oura Ring Gen3, and I think it's the best wearable for people who don't want a smart watch but still want to track their health habits. 

Oura Ring Gen3, starting at $349

I'm an active person. I walk around my neighborhood every morning for at least 30 minutes. Plus, I do yoga, pilates or run on the treadmill at least once a day. The step counter on my iPhone has always clued me in on how many steps I've been taking, but I haven't really had a way to track my heart rate or see how my workouts have been impacting my health. I have also become a terrible sleeper. I have no idea when this happened. I used to be so good at sleeping! Now it takes me ages to fall asleep and even when I do, I usually wake multiple times a night. When I got the Oura Ring, I was excited to see if it would help me discover exactly where my sleep issues are focused and see if something I was doing in my waking hours was actually keeping me up at night. 

What is the Oura Ring?

Oura Ring

The Oura Ring is a health tracker that looks just like any fashion ring. You can order your ring in silver, gold, rose gold, black or a shade called "stealth," which looks like matte black. I chose gold. I really love that it looks like a piece of jewelry and doesn't have a screen. I think that's a big reason as to why I was so resistant to wearables in the past. I'm already staring at my phone, computer and TV. I don't need another screen to keep me busy. Plus, this smart ring pairs with the Oura app on your phone to give you all your data. I can look at it when I want to without having a reminder blaring at me from my wrist. 

The wearable is worn on your finger and tracks biometric data to provide personalized insights into how you sleep and your health. When you wear the Oura Ring, it can record your workouts, track your resting heart rate and your heart rate during exercise, tell you your blood oxygen level, predict your menstrual cycle and show you how much good or bad sleep you're getting throughout the night. When you're not recording workouts, you can use the Oura app for guided meditations, breath work, sleep sounds or even learn about things like the effects of caffeine on your body, why sleep matters and what your readiness score means. 

Oura Ring Gen3 (gold), $499

How does the Oura Ring work?

Oura sends you an at-home try-on kit so you can pick a ring that's the right size. Once you select your size, the ring gets sent to you. You slip the ring on to your finger, making sure the bumpy part inside the ring is against the palm side of your hand. That's the part of the device that's sensing everything for you. Then you go about your business. 

The wearable breaks down your biometric data into three main categories: readiness, sleep and activity.

Your readiness score is your over-all readiness for the day. It takes into account how much you've slept, how well you've slept, how much you've moved your body the previous day, your recovery index, body temperature and more. Your sleep score takes into account your total sleep, REM sleep, deep sleep, restfulness and efficiency. Your activity is scored by how much you move every hour, if you're meeting daily activity scores, your recovery time and training frequency and volume. 

I love that this ring is something you can set and forget. You don't need to constantly be on your phone, checking your levels because your overall readiness score isn't actually calculated until the next day. It doesn't buzz, blip or flash. To the naked eye, it just looks like a piece of jewelry. 

You can check your activity score all day if you really want to. That's the only thing you can see a frequent change in, especially if you're tracking your workouts. Your sleep score might change if you nap. But I typically wake up and check my overall readiness score and see how I might need to adjust my day. The Oura Ring will never outright say your score is bad, but it will tell you when you need to "pay attention" to something that might not be within an ideal range. 

The ring charges on a little ring stand that plugs into a USB port. Although the Oura Ring is water-resistant up to 330 feet, I like to charge my ring while I shower. I've found that the device's battery charges pretty fast. According to the brand, a fully charged ring will last up to seven days.

Is the Oura Ring worth it?

I think the Oura Ring is totally worth it for anyone who wants to track and improve their daily habits but not have a screen on their wrist 24/7. Yes, this ring is $500. So, I wouldn't say this wearable is as budget-friendly as some fitness and sleep trackers. But it's more affordable than a $799 Apple Watch and (in my humble opinion) more attractive too. 

After four nights of sleeping with my Oura Ring on, I was able to determine that I am not getting enough REM sleep and that I'm not having enough of a restful sleep. The wearable suggests this is likely due to my bedroom being too hot or cold, drinking alcohol too close to bedtime or watching TV right before I go to sleep. Sure, it's a grab bag of possibilities, but it's a start. According to my ring, I'm also not taking enough recovery time to help my body relax after workouts. That could also be effecting my sleep score. I'm really looking forward to implementing these changes and seeing if they help me sleep better over time.   

Why a smartwatch with heart monitoring is important

Keeping a close eye on your heart rate is useful for a number of reasons. It can help you track how hard you are working out, help you manage chronic conditions and possibly even let you know when something is wrong.

If you're shopping for a smartwatch for heart health monitoring, it can be hard to know where to start. There are a ton of new features that can sound a bit complicated if you're new to heart monitoring.  To help, we've compiled this guide to help you understand what to look for and which smartwatch will be right for you.

Best smartwatches for heart health monitoring

These smartwatches have the features you need to monitor your heart rate, take ECGs and more.

Apple Watch Series 8

Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm)
Apple via Amazon

The Apple Watch Series 8 is a durable smartwatch that is swim-proof, dust-proof and crack-resistant with advanced heart monitoring features. It has a number of health-tracking features, including an optical heart sensor, an electrical heart sensor for ECG, a blood oxygen sensor and a new body temperature sensor. 

You can tap into yoga, meditation and other workout programs via Apple Fitness+. (Apple Fitness+ is a subscription service. It costs $9.99 a month; Apple Watch buyers get the first month free.) It also comes with a new crash detection feature, which detects where the wearer is in a severe car crash and alerts emergency services.

Apple Watch 8 (41mm), $369 (reduced from $399)

Apple Watch Series 8, GPS + Cellular (41mm), $450 (reduced from $499)

The 45mm version of the Apple Watch Series 8 does everything the 41mm version does, except it does it bigger. 

Apple Watch Series 8 (45mm), $458 (reduced from $478)

Apple Watch Series 8, GPS + Cellular (45mm), $499 (reduced from $529)

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5


The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 offers ECG functionality when paired with a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone. You can take the ECG on your watch and then open the ECG report on your smartphone to dive into your data. 

The Galaxy Watch 5 features an advanced bioactive sensor that collects more accurate data compared to the Galaxy Watch 4. This data can be managed and tracked in the Samsung Health app. It also offers an advanced workout algorithm, hear rate monitoring and sleep-tracking technology.

The Galaxy Watch 5 is available in 40mm and 44mm display sizes. It is also available in five colors. 

Samsung Galaxy Watch 5, $240 and up (reduced from $280) 

 Google Pixel Watch

Best Buy

The Google Pixel Watch features a round face with customizable watch faces and tons of band options. It offers an all-day battery life, with up to 24 hours on a single charge. The Watch includes the Google Home App to adjust your thermostat or connect to your smart home devices. Users can play music, track fitness activity and receive notifications from their connected phone. 

The Google Pixel Watch is the first Android smartwatch to include integrated Fitbit features. The watch's health features include heart-rate monitoring, workout tracking, sleep tracking and more. Google advised that fall detection will be available in 2023. The watch comes with a free six-month subscription to Fitbit premium and three months of YouTube Premium.

The Watch comes in black, silver and gold.

Google Pixel Watch, $300 (reduced from $350) 

Garmin Vivoactive 4

Garmin Store via Amazon

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 uses Garmin's Pulse Ox technology to track your energy levels, respiration, menstrual cycle, stress, sleep, heart rate, hydration levels and more. It can stream downloaded music from Spotify and Amazon Music. When paired with your smartphone, the watch can receive notifications.

This Garmin smartwatch features more than 20 preloaded GPS and indoor-sports apps. Want a personal trainer on your wrist? This watch can show you animated workouts via your watch screen.

Available in a variety of colors. The price listed below is for the black watch, as pictured.

Garmin Vivoactive 4 (black), $180 (reduced from $330)

Garmin Venu 2 Plus


The Garmin Venu 2 Plus offers advanced heart and health tracking. The smartwatch samples your heart rate multiple times per second and lets you know if it stays too high or too low when you're resting. It also helps gauge how hard you work during activities, even while swimming.

Garmin Venu 2 Plus, $450

Fitbit Charge 5


The latest in the Charge line from Fitbit, this well-equipped activity and health tracker packs advanced technology into a slender device and features a color touchscreen. The smartphone-enabled device helps you manage stress and stay on top of heart health and sleep.

The Fitbit Charge 5 boasts a 7-day battery life on a single charge.

Fitbit Charge 5, $100 (reduced from $150) 

Fitbit Versa 3


This top-of-the-line Fitbit has a built-in GPS that can be used to track the pace, distance and route of your runs, hikes, or biking outings. The tracker offers heart-rate monitoring, stress data and sleep tracking. Google Assistant and Alexa voice assistant support is built in.

The Fitbit Versa 3 has a 6-day battery life. Its fast-charge capability gives you a full day's worth of battery in just 12 minutes.

Fitbit Versa 3, $154 (reduced from $230)

Amazfit Bip 3


What's so great about the Amazfit Bip 3? It features a colorful 1.69-inch screen to display incoming calls and texts. It's loaded with sensors, too, to monitor your heart rate, blood oxygen level, sleep quality, and stress levels. You can even take it swimming with you -- the Amazfit Bip 3 is IP68 water resistant.

Be sure to apply the coupon before checkout to get the best price on this Android- and iPhone-compatible smartwatch.

Amazfit Bip 3, $52 after coupon (reduced from $60)

Reboot Yourself! The CBS Essentials guide to a healthier 2023

Getty Images

There's no better time than now to make a commitment to a better, healthier you. Whether that means getting more exercise, learning more about fitness and nutrition or doing more to keep track of your health, CBS Essentials has you covered with our new series, Reboot Yourself. We'll be covering everything you need to know to live your best life in 2023, from the best water bottles for staying hydrated to the best smartwatches for monitoring heart health to the best earbuds and headphones for working out.

Be sure to check back with CBS Essentials throughout the new year for the latest in our health and fitness series.

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