8 Best Amazon Echo Features to Help You Lose Weight
How to Use Alexa for Weight Loss
The Amazon Echo can be used to help you with a lot of things, but did you know Alexa can also assist you on your weight loss journey?
Alexa can access numerous skills and toggle multiple features that, if used properly, will aid you in your quest to get fit.
So let's dive in and unlock the secrets!
8. Alexa Health & Fitness Skills (Fitbit + Calorie Tracking)
Alexa has several useful health & fitness skills that are well rated and could help you get fit.
Here are some of the top health skills available right now:
- Five Minute Workout: Core and Cardio
- 7 Minute Workout
- 5-Minute Plank Workout
- 30 Day Pushup Challenge
Each skill serves a unique purpose, and they can be combined to form the perfect workout routine.
Five Minute Workout: Core and Cardio
"Alexa, open five-minute workout"
This skill offers a fast moving aerobic session that'll get your heart pumping. It's full of fat burning routines designed to tone your core and burn calories.
This is a highly rated skill that does what it's supposed to, and it's expected to expand and develop even more exciting programs in the future.
7 Minute Workout
"Alexa, start seven-minute workout"
This skill is packed with exercises created to increase metabolism, lower fat, and improve energy levels. You'll get to perform a series of fat burning routines that will push your body to its healthy limits.
This was one of the first fitness skills for the Echo, and it remains a crowd-pleaser with new updates that allow you to keep track of and resume existing workouts. Workouts, including tutorials/images, can be viewed through the Alexa app.
5-Minute Plank Workout
"Alexa, start five-minute plank"
The 5-Minute Plank Workout is a simple yet potent skill that will help tone your entire body. The plank is excellent for core conditioning, improving posture, and for strengthening your hamstrings and glutes. This five-minute regimen consists of 6 sets with 10-second breaks in between each set.
This skill is easy to use, it's highly rated, and each set is perfectly well paced. Just make sure you know what planking is before starting this skill.
30 Day Pushup Challenge
"Alexa, open pushup challenge"
Did you ever want to complete 100 push ups in a row?
Well, now you can start practicing with this fantastic push-up skill.
For a few minutes a day you can build your stamina and perfect your stance. This app will track your progress over a month's time, and give you daily encouragement so that you can reach your goal.
This is another handy skill that anyone can use, and it's expected to keep growing. Future installments may include difficulty levels and a leaderboard system.
"Alexa, ask Fitbit how I'm doing today"
Now you can keep track of your stats with the Fitbit skill. Fitbit is one of the most popular health & fitness brands, and if you link your account to Alexa, you'll be able to ask her if you've hit your sleep goals, daily steps, and other stats.
To access different Fitbit accounts, you must switch between your Amazon Household profiles. You must also enable all permissions before Alexa can tell you your info.
This is a great skill to track your fitness data on that new Fitbit Versa smartwatch, but it has its flaws particularly when it comes to linking your account. Hopefully those issues will be addressed in upcoming updates.
How to Track Your Calories
Currently there's no dedicated calorie tracker for Alexa, but there are several skills that do an adequate job at monitoring your daily caloric intake.
The best one is Track by Nutritionix, which can log in what foods you've eaten and their caloric value. You can even get a detailed calorie report, however; you must have a Nutritionix account to do any of this.
Other skills like Metabolic Calculator can calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), and the Calorie Burn Calculator app can tell you how many calories separate exercises burn.
You can also ask Alexa how many calories are in particular foods and log those stats in your phone or notebook. Alexa is very knowledgeable about a lot of things, and she's getting better and better at keeping track of your stats.
7. Alexa Skills for Sleep and Meditation
Alexa has a lot of meditation and sleep skills that can substitute sound machines and help you relax. They're especially effective after a vigorous workout session.
Some sounds like rain or thunderstorm can be played automatically, but if you'd like a more detailed list of sleep sounds, then I'd recommend these skills:
- Zen Sounds: Japanese Garden Sounds ("Alexa, open Japanese Garden Sounds")
- Relaxing Sounds: Spa Music ("Alexa, play Spa Music")
- Sleep and Relaxation Sounds ("Alexa, open Sleep Sounds")
- Ambient Sounds ("Alexa, open Ambient Sounds")
There are dozens of different sounds available from multiple sources, and many sounds loop 24/7. You can even set sleep timers to limit how long you'd like them to play.
If you want more than the standard white noise sounds, then I'd highly recommend checking out the Sleep and Relaxation Sounds skill in the Alexa app. This app has over 50 high quality sounds (not all free) including an ocean villa that comes with a short story to calm your mind.
Alexa's Meditation Skills
If sleep sounds aren't enough, then there are plenty of meditation skills that help you breath better and lessen stress levels. These skills include:
- Headspace: Guided Meditation for Everybody
- Guided Meditation: Meditation of the Day for Calm
- Meditation Studio
- Mindful Meditation
- Peaceful Meditation
- 1-Minute Mindfulness (Peace One Minute at a Time)
These along with numerous other meditation apps are designed to help you calm down, clear your mind, and make you feel better.
Some skills like 1-Minute Mindfulness can be used for very short breathing sessions while others like Headspace and Guided Meditations offer more extensive, therapeutic exercises that may soothe your anxiety and depression.
You can't lose weight or recover your body without a good night's sleep, and these tools can aide in your recovery. So if you really want to relax and sleep better, then enable these sleep skills today.
6. Cardio Playlists from Amazon Music, Spotify, and More
Nothing goes better with a strenuous workout session than the right music, and Alexa is here to oblige.
Music itself was always an integral part to the Amazon Echo, but now you can connect your premium accounts to multiple music platforms including:
- Amazon Music (Unlimited)
- Pandora (Premium)
There are even free tiers from Amazon and Pandora as well as radio stations like TuneIn and iHeartRadio.
If those options aren't enough, then you can connect your phone via Bluetooth to an Echo speaker and play songs from YouTube or your personal music library. Finally, you can control Alexa from high quality speakers like Sonos (account linking required).
Personally I love using Spotify because I can tell Alexa to play my cardio playlists when I'm doing in-home exercises. Other premium music platforms like Amazon Unlimited also give you that option, and best of all, you can control music playback with your voice.
How to Connect Your Devices with Multi-Room Music
Multi-room allows you to play songs and control devices across multiple Echo devices throughout your home, and it works with most content sources (Spotify, Amazon Music).
To create a group, you'll have to select smart home, click create groups, select multi-room music group, create your group (pre-selected or customized), and choose which devices you'd like to include in your group (Echo Dots, Echos).
Once you've done that you can tell Alexa to play any song on the "created group name", and she'll play it on the devices in that group. Keep in mind that your speakers' Bluetooth connections will be disabled during multi-room use.
You also can't play different music on different devices or on multiple multi-room groups at once unless you have an Amazon Music Unlimited Family Plan.
How to Block Explicit Lyrics
Alexa has new filter options that you can use to block explicit lyrics. This is very useful if you have kids around but don't want to forego your music during a workout.
To activate this filter, you'll need to go into the settings option, scroll down and click Music & Media, hit the Explicit Filter tab on the bottom, and toggle the Explicit Filter option.
This filter will block explicit songs on your Alexa devices, and it'll only allow supported music services to be played. This means songs from Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn will be disabled once this filter is on.
If you don't want to control the filter options from your settings, then there's an additional selection that will allow you to control the filter using only your voice.
That will make it easy to enable your favorite songs once your kids are away.
5. Ask Alexa (WebMD)
If any of those resources listed above feel like too much, then you could always get answers from Alexa herself.
She can provide basic caloric information on millions of food items, she can give you workout tips, she can tell you how many calories different exercises will burn over an hour, and she can reveal basic health information.
Alexa won't have all the answers, but she can easily answer basic questions. She may even redirect you towards a skill that could solve your inquiries. In fact, developers are working to better integrate their skills with Alexa so that you won't have to hear her say, "sorry I don't know that" as often.
Getting her up to speed will take time, but in the meantime, you can check out these health skills to learn more:
- Ask My Buddy
- Virtual Nurse
- Mayo Clinic First Aid (+First Aid Advice)
- Medical Assistant
- My Food Facts
The majority of these apps provide vital health information including discrete answers to questions about various drugs, their side effects, and more.
Some skills like Virtual Nurse can offer info about illnesses and first aid including: how to perform CPR, symptoms of heat stroke, and the proper way to treats cuts and burns.
More popular health apps like Ask My Buddy can be really handy for the elderly, the injured, and disabled persons. This particular skill functions as an alert system if you can't move or get to a phone. With Ask My Buddy, you can ask Alexa to send help and your contacts will be immediately notified.
Please keep in mind that while none of these can substitute a real doctor, they're still great tools to help you learn more about your health and they showcase an effective use of the smart assistant.
4. Customized Alarms & Timers (Including Routines)
The Amazon Echo's timers and alarms aren't just the typical ones you'd see on a bedside alarm clock.
With Alexa, you have the option to name your timers ("Alexa, set a 10 minute running timer") and even set multiple timers to track things like workout sets and routines.
For alarms, you can choose from over a dozen different sounds and celebrity voices including Blake Shelton, Alec Baldwin, and Missy Elliott. If those don't suit your style, then you can set an alarm to your favorite music/news station or song.
You can also set daily and reoccurring alarms, which are excellent when you need a reminder to hit the gym early.
Remember that you can always ask Alexa to tell you about your alarms/timers and have her cancel any that you don't want. You can even ask her to show you which alarms/timers you have set if you have the touchscreen Echo Spot or Echo Show.
It's amazing how far two basic features can further your weight loss journey.
How to Set up Routines?
One really useful thing that your Echo can do is perform multiple tasks using only one command phrase.
To set up a routine, click on "routines" in the settings tab, choose a recommended routine or create your own (hit + button), and input your commands and actions.
Some actions that Alexa can perform are:
- Play a song/radio station from your selected music source
- Activate your smart home lights, thermostats, plugs, etc.
- Get traffic information
- Change your Echo speaker's volume
- Weather update
- News updates from your flash briefing
You can activate as many actions as you want through either one phrase ("Alexa, Good Morning") or at a scheduled time. Time commands can be repeated daily, on weekdays, or on weekends only.
The right routines will save you time, and they'll make your smart speaker experience a lot smoother.
Now you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
3. Daily Reminders
Sometimes you may forget to go to the gym or eat at the right time, but now you won't have to.
Just say, "Alexa, add a reminder" and let her know exactly what you want her to remember. This will save you time writing things down and remembering what you needed to get done.
When you want to know your reminders just say, "Alexa, what's the reminder?" and she'll tell you.
Alexa Can Also Remember Detailed Events
You can now tell Alexa to remember specific events about yourself, other people, or about different things. For example you can say, "Alexa, remember I put my smoothie on the kitchen counter", and she'll remember where your smoothie is next time you ask her.
Personally I prefer using reminders because it's reliable and has been around since the Echo was created, but you can definitely utilize both to help you out.
They're excellent features that will make things a bit easier especially if you have a hectic lifestyle.
2. Voice Shopping for Exercise Equipment
Shopping by voice is an under utilized feature primarily due to privacy reasons and uncertainty in the product choices, but you shouldn't be afraid of it.
If you're an Amazon Prime member and have linked a credit or debit card to your account, then you can take advantage of this feature to purchase healthy food and exercise equipment.
How to Enable Voice Shopping
To enable voice shopping, you'll first need to link a credit or debit card to the same Amazon account that you used for your Echo. Make sure your default 1-click payment settings are set to the correct card on file, which can be checked & verified on your Amazon.com account.
After your payment settings are set-up, go into the Alexa app settings and click on "Voice Purchasing" to see if the purchase by voice setting is enabled.
You can also enable and input a voice code to protect you account from unwanted purchases. When you enable voice code, Alexa will ask you for this code whenever you make a voice purchase, so don't forget it.
Alexa Shopping Notifications
Besides voice purchasing, your Echo can provide you with detailed delivery information on every bought item.
If you click on the notification tab (shopping notifications) in your settings, you'll have the option to receive notifications on product names, where they are, and when they'll arrive. You can even set up reminders, so that you'll be notified when it's time to re-order a product.
When you receive a notification, your Echo speakers will make a sound and light up. You can say, "Alexa, what are my notifications" to get shipping updates.
What Should I Buy?
You may be wondering to yourself, how does Alexa choose the product I'm looking for?
Well she uses Amazon's Choice to select the best product for your needs. Amazon's Choice is comprised of the most affordable and highly rated items available that target your selections.
She'll also try to select Prime items every time, so that you can take advantage of your free 2-day shipping. If an item is not available or isn't eligible for voice purchasing, then it'll be placed in your Amazon shopping cart.
I understand that voice shopping sounds risky, but I've been voice shopping through my Echo for over a year and haven't had any problems. I trust Amazon to be transparent, and I'm happy that they have safeguards to protect my credit card information.
So if you need a few healthy items and don't feel like searching through the app to find them, then enable voice purchasing for quick, easy, and secure online shopping.
1. Quick + Detailed Weather Updates
I realize this doesn't sound like much of a feature since most smart speakers (including your phone) can easily tell you the weather, but Alexa has a few more tricks up her sleeve.
First of all, getting a quick weather update before heading out for a run is surprisingly useful. Second, Alexa has several weather skills that can give you a lot more detailed information on what to expect.
- I think the best weather skill is Big Sky because of its detailed and accurate weather analysis.
Big Sky is excellent if you want to know things like the humidity, dew points, wind speed, and hourly weather info. You can even enable notifications to get severe weather alerts from your Echo speakers.
If you want even more, then you can upgrade to the premium version where you can add hyper-forecasts for up to 5 locations. That's a cool feature for those going to the gym in another town or near your work place.
Big Sky isn't the only weather skill though, there's Surfline for surfers, Personal Weather - Weather Underground PWS for home weather stations, and Accuweather for everyone.
Nothing shuts down an outdoor workout more than the weather, and finally Alexa can tell you exactly what the conditions will be like.