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Fitness and family health

September 07, 2018

6 ways smart speakers can help you manage your health

Whether you aim to get fit, eat right or sleep tight, here’s how digital assistants like Google Home and Alexa can help you keep on top of your health.

Your smart speaker can do so much more than tell you the time, date and weather forecast. Today’s voice-activated helpers – like Google Home or Alexa – come equipped with an abundance of helpful information and guidance, especially when it comes to your well-being. Here are a few ways they can help you stay on top of your physical and mental health.

1. Try a guided workout

Looking to keep in shape with a solid fitness plan? Alexa and Google Home offer guided workout sessions. They encourage you to get moving with a series of brief but effective cardio and core-strengthening exercises. Many of these workouts let you set your own pace, take breaks when needed and pick your own music.

Fitness newbies can kick things off by asking Google to speak to Which Workout? After completing a quick quiz, you’ll learn which exercise plans work best for your lifestyle.

If you’re short on time, ask Alexa to pull up a five-minute workout to get your heart rate going and give your metabolism a quick boost.

You can also choose a trainer. Fitness sessions like Alexa’s Workout Coach even let you customize the type of coach you want. Whether you prefer an inspirational voice encouraging you keep calm and to carry on or a drill sergeant pushing you through a repetition, your voice-activated coach is always around to help you reach your fitness goals.

2. Manage your stress levels

When everyday stress becomes too much handle, it helps to take a breather and Zen out for a bit. Google Home-users can play an hour of healing and meditation sounds to bring some calming energy into their day.

You also have the chance to look away from your computer and phone as your smart speaker pulls you into a relaxing meditation session. Headspace via Google Home offers “bite-sized meditations” for busy people and advertises itself as a way to learn how to meditate, with a strong emphasis on stress reduction.

If poor sleep is driving up your stress levels, the Thrive Global skill for Alexa can guide you through an eight-minute meditation to help regulate your breathing pattern so you can get a good night’s rest.

3. Figure out food facts

Is there too much added sugar in that tub of yogurt in your fridge? Want to know how much protein is in that bowl of oatmeal? Just ask Google. From calories to sodium levels, your smart speaker has a ton of nutritional stats on many different kinds of produce, meats and packaged foods.

Alexa’s Track by Nutritionix skill allows Amazon users to do the same, providing quick answers to general nutritional inquiries. Users can also connect to their Nutritionix accounts to keep track of meal plans and daily eating habits.

4. Manage your financial health

Your finances can have a significant impact on your stress levels and overall well-being. Alexa provides an arsenal of business and finance skills, like The Motley Fool, which are devoted to helping you keep track of your money. Google Home users aren’t out of the loop, either. They can ask Google about individual stocks, stock prices and market health.

What’s more, both smart speakers can look up the cheapest fares for your next trip and connect you to simple money-saving apps like Flipp, which have deals and coupons available for your next visit to the supermarket.

5. Call for help

If there’s an emergency at home – you’ve slipped in the tub and hit your head or broken your leg, you think there’s a prowler in the backyard, you smell smoke – you’ll want to call for help. If you have your phone within reach, you can call 911. But if you can’t get to your phone, it’s important to note that you can’t call 911 through your smart speaker. Why not? Because 911 might have trouble pinpointing your location through calls made over Wi-Fi.

If you can’t reach your phone in an emergency, don’t panic. Instead, ask Google or Alexa to call a trusted person on your contacts list and let them know what’s happening. They can call 911 on your behalf if the situation warrants it.

6. Find a health-care provider near you

Whoever you need to deal with your health – a dentist, chiropractor, physiotherapist or other health-care provider – a digital coach like Sun Life’s Ella has you covered. Simply ask your smart speaker to talk to Sun Life. Google or Alexa will then connect you to Ella, who can run a quick search for the best-rated health-care providers near you. If you’re wondering about the validity of the recommendations you’re getting, Ella’s search function is fuelled by ratings from more than 100,000 health-service clients. Plus, Ella’s bilingual. So, if you prefer French to English, feel free to talk to Ella en français.

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