We have covered dozens of different types of fitness trackers. Standard step trackers, workout GPS trackers, scales, urine test, and loads of things in between. Each of these devices and services seems to have a slightly different way to collect and display the data. But what about if there is NOT a display. That is the case for many voice assistants. Thankfully fitness and wellness is a popular area of focus for many individuals, so major players like Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa), and Google (Assistant) have built fitness and tracking tools into their devices and services.
Voice assistants, and voice first inputs on computers, have grown in popularity in recent years. For some this is because they are easier to use. As an example, many children can navigate Youtube with voice search before they are able to spell what they are looking for. In other cases being able to utter a few words is easier than grabbing a smartphone and tapping away multiple times to get into an app, just to reach a single piece of data.
Alexa for fitness can be a lot of things. For example, “Alexa, ask Withings how much weight I have lost this year” can get you a response quickly, even if this is not a piece of information you might want shouted across the room by your device. So, how useful is Amazon Alexa for tracking fitness? Can Alexa be a personal trainer? And what role does Alexa play in improving wellness? Here is a sample of some of the top personal wellness integrations and fitness devices that work with Alexa.
Alexa for Fitness with Amazon Halo Band
Amazon made their own way into fitness trackers with their release of the Amazon Halo bands. At first these were just fitness trackers with a subscription service, but slowly they also added Alexa integrations that allow you to ask her about your general health summary. The neat features of the Halo subscription include sleep tracking as well as body composition tracking, neither of which is really necessary for Alexa. As a useful feature Alexa helps avoid having a screen, which the primary Halo band also does not have, so using the voice assistant lets you skip using a smart phone entirely. For anyone who is focusing on improving wellness by avoiding devices, this makes the Alexa Halo Band a solid option.
Amazon Echo Buds
Echo Buds are the bluetooth enabled headphones designed with Alexa in mind. After syncing to a smart phone the buds themselves have Alexa integration so you can have her help anywhere that you go. That anywhere extends to workouts, and you can even start a workout simply by saying “Alexa start my workout”. This is very helpful for managing a workout without having to access your phone (you will still need to carrying the phone since the Buds are not GPS/Cellular enabled). For example if you are running in cold weather with gloves, or hot weather with sweaty hands and trying to track with just a phone and no watch, having the voice management to pause or end a run is helpful
The Amazfit band is a great competitor to something like a fitbit, but for much lower cost. The wrist worn trackers start at around $29 and have both blood oxygen sensors and accelerometer. This allows them to track heart rate and steps. Higher cost versions of the Amazfit also offer a GPS option for full workout tracking. The Alexa built in series make it easy to ask for simple requests directly form your wrist. This is marginally useful to take notes or set reminders, but ultimately it is unlikely that you’ll be doing what you normally do with Alexa (ie. Stream tons of great music).
Fitbit Alexa Skill –
No surprise that one of the most popular fitness trackers also has an integration with one of the most popular voice assistants. Fitbit does much of the same as other fitness trackers, allowing you to get access to the data it tracks after you link a profile. Ask for your step count averages or more and find out if you need to get out the door for a brief walk.
Withings Health Mate and Amazon Alexa
We have covered the Withings tools here before, including the popular Health Mate App. For most of the information captured by Health Mate, you can access them using the Withings Alexa skill. This takes the Alexa integrations beyond simple step trackers like those listed above. It becomes now a tool to manage and review blood pressure, weight, and sleep as well.
MyFitnessPal and Amazon Alexa
Since one of the more popular places for an Alexa device seems to be in the kitchen, having her help with diet is a no brainer. Many folks share that they look for recipes or managing a shopping list using their smart device as well. The MyFitnessPal Alexa integration is lacking in the input it allows, you can not just tell it what you ate and have it add to your tracking, but it is possible to get an update on where you are for the day. Before you grab another snack consider “Alexa, ask MyFitnessPal how many calories have I consumed for today?”
Headspace on Alexa
Alexa wellness can be about more than just fitness tracking. Many popular meditation apps make some content available on smart speakers. One of those is Headspace for Alexa, which we have reviewed previously. Once the app is enabled you can access meditations and guided podcast style resources on your Echo or Alexa devices. Users who have an Alexa where they get ready for the day may find this to be an easy way to integrate meditation into their morning routine. https://www.headspace.com/alexa