A few weeks ago I covered off stage 2 of the HSI process at Aon. This included a coaching session to apply the findings of the HSI upfront assessment and report. 

The coaching really helped me improve my sustainability through competency and action pathway. 

Since then I have been wearing a Whoop band to monitor my sleep, strain, recovery, and health and receive personalised performance coaching based on the data. 

The objective was to use the Whoop to help guide my lifestyle behaviours to enhance my performance at work and personal life by making me more sustainable. 

I have been wearing the band to collect data 24 hours a day now for 12 weeks. 

I think I am quite tuned into my body so I wanted to calibrate it against my normal life and see if it aligned. During the period of wearing the Whoop I have lived as close to normal as possible. 

There are several metrics that the Whoop focuses on to guide you:

Strain - exertion you put on your body during a day. Including activity (workouts) and non-activity (sleep, stress, chores etc). The band will measure muscular and cardiovascular load during an activity (activity strain). It also factors in your average HR throughout the day which contributes to a non-activity strain reading. So if you are stressed or fatigued you would likely have an increased HR and therefore a higher strain. Your HRV will also be lower. This might come from work, for example. 

Recovery - an indication of your general wellbeing and ability to adapt to life's stressors. Sleep is a big component of this as I have learnt. It also includes Heart Rate Variability (higher and consistent is better), Resting Heart Rate (lower better as your heart can pump more bloody with every beat) and Respiratory Rate. Also back to back days of high strain will result in poor recovery scores. Lifestyle choices like hydration, alcohol and diet also play a role. 

Sleep - how much sleep you have…! It also shows you your sleep performance (amount of sleep you got, divided by how much sleep you needed). 

To give an extreme example of the above metrics in action, during this period I was taking part in a 110km ultra run across the Sahara Desert in Morocco with my friend Charles. On consecutive days my stain reached 20.7 (out of 21) as my recovery went down to 1% and 3% in the following days. In the following week my sleep performance also dropped to 67% average. I expected all of this from previous racing experiences so managed the week to improve my recovery. By asking the AI Coach in the Whoop app I was also suggested ways to improve my quality of sleep and recovery (more on that below!). 

During this period I also had an increase in client facing meetings and general work. Whilst the Whoop didn't know this, a variability in my recovery score (increases in RHR) would indicate a level of stress.

One aspect of the Whoop that I like and will certainly start to be deployed more widely in health technology is the ‘AI Coach’ - you can see below where I have asked it how to improve my recovery. Over time this on-demand facility will help the user make better informed decisions that are personalised to them to improve performance.

There is also a journal function which I complete each day with the expectation that it will correlate to suggestions to improve recovery (yet to see this in action yet….). 

My takeaways:

  1. The data that the Whoop captured aligned to how my body felt and the suggestions of rest aligned to what I would normally do 
  2. When I look at the data over a 2 month period I can clearly see that an increase demand at work with client facing tasks has impacted my daily strain from non activity which would indicate increased heart rate or less sleep
  3. What is harder to map is where performance at work might have dipped as this is not tracking work performance, however retrospectively you could compare where you had a high value work deadline and the outcome. That said, the components of recovery probably correlate to performance at work for most people so this is a good indicator
  4. The journal information I fill in each day still doesn't correlate to my recovery score which I thought it would have by now (particularly some of the nutrition options)
  5. I was unaware of how much and why my sleep impacts my performance. Whoop has also made me realise how much improvement there is available to me. I have taken action to improve this and used the AI coach to make suggestions which I really liked
  6. The AI Coach is going to really make this product more impactful as it begins to recommend specific resources that individuals can rate, at scale (like Netflix!)
  7. Being able to set goals formally within Whoop would be great to help benchmark my improvements with measurable outcomes

In conclusion I can see that providing an individual with awareness of how their lifestyle choices impact their performance is the first step to improved wellbeing.  

Knowing this information about an individual can be the basis to use targeted personalised interventions to improve an individuals life. At Aon I share my Whoop data with my coach (Joe Dixon) who then coaches me on improvements. In addition, I am using the AI Coach within Whoop to source other suggestions. 

Looking ahead, the data within an individuals Whoop app could easily hyper personalise other people technology in the workplace like an employee benefits platform with hyper relevant benefit/resource suggestions to improve overall wellbeing and performance. 

Picture - David Kirk and Charles Cousins at the start line in Ouarzazate for UltraX Morocco 110km