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If you had told me a year ago I would be wearing a fitness tracking / wellness device every day I would have laughed in your face. I’ve dabbled in the practice before, but found, for one reason or another, that it just didn’t jive with me. So when I decided again this past April that I was going to start wearing a Whoop, I had a handful of biases going into it.
Some things about me before I go into the details about the Whoop 4.0, though. I was recently diagnosed with a chronic condition and though I have always tried to be active, accountability was a struggle. I only came to be a little bit sporty in my 20’s after growing up in an athletic family. And as someone who has a tendency to be a bit obsessive, there were reasons why a wearable could do more damage than good. But my experience with the Whoop has been wonderful.
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First and foremost, I have found that the heart rate tracker and stress monitor capabilities have been very insightful for a number of reasons. I have a much better sense of my baseline on the day to day, but perhaps even better, I am now aware of elements of physiological stress that I experience during the day that I probably would not have noticed. As such, the monitor which shows spikes over the day has allowed me to gently implement new practices like taking breaks to do deep breathing or getting up to go for a walk, which in turn has helped me lower my stress levels. And of course, the recovery function, which calibrates data that includes your sleep performance and strain with baseline metrics like resting heart rate, your respiratory rate, blood oxygen levels, skin temp, as well as heart rate variability, gives me a great indication of how I should modify my activity for the day ahead. As someone who has to be very careful to not overexert, and also has to stay active to manage my symptoms, this has been invaluable. On days when my recovery is low, I pivot my movement plan. But perhaps even more valuably, it’s made me much more in tune with my body and the signs that it gives me when I am ready to perform and when I am not. As a result, I’m much more respectful of my own physical limits.
Which brings me to the sleep monitor. In the past, I struggled with wearables at night because I could never get comfortable, but the Whoop was by far the easiest to get used to. The insights I get from my journal inputs (tracking things like alcohol consumption, whether I am practicing deep breathing or meditation, have taken anti-anxiety meds, or my supplements etc.) and the sleep tracking of time spent awake, in light sleep, deep sleep, or REM sleep have helped me refine what helps me get the best sleep possible.
Further, after a few months of wearing the Whoop at night, it became apparent through the stress monitor that sometimes I experience stress while I am asleep. I brought this up with my doctor who suggested I see an ENT because I have long been known to be a teeth grinder and clencher while I snooze. Not only did insights from the Whoop lead me to understand even further the therapeutic benefits of my masseter Botox, but with the help of my ENT and a sleep study, we were able to zero in on the fact that I have mild sleep apnea. While there’s not much I can do on that front except for work on my positioning while I sleep, it did help me get clarity on why sometimes my sleep isn’t as restful as it should be. All because the Whoop indicated I experience stress sometimes when I sleep!
As an aside from all of these health insights, the Whoop has also helped me strive toward greater fitness goals. I have a better idea of my strain—and how much strain the strength training and light cardio that I do creates on a day to day basis. As a result, I have seen my ideal strain capabilities change over time and I’ve gotten more fit. The best part of that is I’m not dead focused on the physical results, but rather the physiological signs of better fitness. That has been immensely freeing.
Another note: the Whoop does not track steps, and while I like to check in with my step counter on my phone on the days I do not exercise, I still feel like the Whoop provides comprehensive data that has helped me better understand my own body. How great is that? As we move towards the end of the year and the inevitable health craze that the post-holiday slump brings upon us, I highly suggest adding a Whoop 4.0 to the equation. I certainly have reaped the benefits.