Get Fit with A Voice Assistant
There are hundreds of millions of devices that offer voice assistants like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, and others. For the most part these voice personas help navigate simple tasks on phones or devices. Things like allowing you to stream music, ask about the weather, or complete simple searches but they can be so much more. With the right setup a Voice Assistant can turn into a trainer to help you complete your fitness and wellness goals.
In 2021 Google Assistant announced that they would be including wellness data into proactive display responses. Alexa has integrated fitness through the hundreds of skills available for the platform. The entry point for fitness on either device can be varied. Many users seem to ease into it either with one of the more simplistic “10 minute workout” type activities or thanks to one of their personal fitness trackers.
How do you use Alexa for fitness?
The easiest way to get started with Alexa is sometimes to just ask her. Trying something like “Alexa, start a workout” or “Alexa, begin a 5 minute workout” will usually allow her to resolve in a skill that delivers exactly that.
If you want to curate it a bit more you can check out the skill store and see which ones are rated highest. If you have a screen based device the opportunities are even broader as you will have access to both Prime Video as well as Youtube videos. This means you can search for your favorite workout routine and get moving.
Fitness is not just physical though, it is also mental. Because Voice assistants are so good at streaming audio, one of the great options is podcasts. There are many audio based experiences that help with mental wellness. Some popular meditation apps, like Headspace, offer a unique experience on voice assistants. If you want to try though, just work on asking for things like “Alexa, play a meditation podcast” or even something as simple as “Alexa, open calming sleep sounds” and you are on your way.
Fitness Devices that Work with Alexa
Amazon offers a program for device manufacturers, the Works with Alexa Program. It is designed to showcase products that integrate well with Alexa. For the most part this is smart home devices, lights and plugs. In the fitness world it includes things like the Withings line of sleep trackers, blood pressure cuffs and smart scales. These will also require the addition of an Alexa skill. The skill allows access to data and to get updates by asking things like ‘Alexa, ask Health Mate how much weight I’ve lost this year”.
This skill integration and bluetooth connection is in addition to the “Alexa Built-In” program. This program puts a call and response Alexa inside of the device. As it relates to fitness this mostly means wrist worn step and fitness trackers including Amazon’s Halo band. Also third party devices exist like the Amazfit Band and Wyze band. Sadly one of the biggest fitness devices, the Apple Watch, does not have a native integration with Alexa.
For any of these connected devices it is good to understand what Alexa can add, and where it is limited. For the most part Alexa is able to access the data that your fitness devices tracks, so you can get updates quickly. This avoids the need to navigate the random UI on your phone or device. What it can not do is ensure the accuracy of the device that it is linked to. This is important to understand since all of the devices will vary in accuracy. Even some of the biggest devices makers struggle on non-core metrics with things like the VO2 max accuracy on Apple Watch coming into question.
Outside of accuracy, the safety and security of your information is critical. Amazon has ensured that they provide fitness, health, and wellness companies the ability to build HIPPA compliant skills. This is critical as a customer to understand which data is shared. Something as sensitive as your blood pressure and pulse reading is not disclosed into the wrong hands.