Five ways to stay well with Alexa

We all know that the Echo can wake us up in the morning and time the perfect egg, can keep us up-to-date with the news and weather, and play music and games and so, so much more – but it can also help keep us fit, healthy and safe. Here’s a few top Alexa tips on keeping well.

Alexa, I’ve got this shooting pain down my left arm

Thanks to a recent collaboration with the NHS, your Echo now knows almost everything that there is to know about medical matters – quite literally. You don’t have to enable a skill or know a special command to conjure up the info – just like Wikipedia, Recipidea, Wiki-How and so much more, it’s now all built-in and all you have to do is logo

Just ask, “Alexa, how can I treat a burn?” or “Alexa, what can I do about a headache?” or “Alexa, how do I treat a boil?” In each case, she will answer by saying, “According to the NHS website…”and continue to give you all sorts of essential information to effectively manage your ailments and patch up your accidents.

Of course, she’s still no replacement for a doctor – but an initial consultation with your GP may well soon be via your Echo Dot or Echo Show (that’s the one with the screen). In any case, she’s always there for you for all things medical.

Alexa, help me keep fit

There are quite literally thousands of superb skills that can help you with exercise, from gentle yoga to high intensity training – and we’ve covered many of them on Dot to Dot, the daily Echo demo podcast.

Woman holding a yoga pose on concrete floor

Try saying, “Alexa, start Easy Yoga,” for your personal yoga coach to take you through a range of poses to relax or energise you, “Alexa, open The Body Coach,” for an awesome HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout that gets harder day by day, or “Alexa, launch the 100 Pushups Challenge,” to build those dream pecs, and so many more. To give you an idea of just how many, there are currently 184 different yoga skills alone… 

Woman doing push up on outside deck

Alexa, help me eat well

There are a similarly dazzling number of recipe and food-related skills available through the A-lady. Recipedia was mentioned above – this used to be a separate skill you needed to invoke but now simply say, “Alexa, what recipes do you have for vegan sausage rolls?” or “Alexa, how many calories in a muffin?” (169 calories in one plain muffin, in case you’re interested).

“Alexa, start the BBC Good Food skill,” will open a world of great cooking options, categorized by Dish, diet, course or cuisine. You can also search by ingredients to help use up what’s been lingering in the fridge.

So there’s now no excuse for not knowing a good, healthy recipe to make with what’s already in your cupboards, and just how many calories are in that slice of cake or chocolate biscuit.

Of course you can also order a dozen cupcakes through Just Eat, or a large pepperoni pizza through the Dominoes skill – but we won’t mention either of those here.

Alexa, help me relax, sleep well and stay focused

OK – if we thought there were a lot of skills in the aforementioned categories, these pale into insignificance when compared to the sheer number of relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, mind-coaching, hypnotherapy, time management or study focus skills that Alexa has to offer.

Just ask, “Alexa, help me sleep/relax/focus/stop smoking etc, etc,” and she will suggest a selection for you to try in each category. The A-lady is now exceptionally good at offering you skill options related to any question or request you may have.

There are even skills that will help your pets relax. Say, “Alexa, start Relax My Dog,” or “Alexa, open Calm My Dog,” and so many more. Want to do the complete opposite? Then simply say, “Alexa, meow.”

White shorthaired dog sleeping on wooden deck

Oh and by the way, you can also ask Alexa to pretend to be a dog to protect your home while you’re away (“Alexa, launch Burglar Deterrent.”)

Alexa, help me get help – fast!

If you need to ask a friend to come round to help open a jar or pill bottle, have those sharp pains and need to get help fast, or if you just need someone to talk to to help stave off feelings of isolation experience by so many (particularly if a disability is keeping you indoors or even in bed), then being able to call a friend or family member by voice can be a life-saver.

You have always been able to call other Echo devices using your voice (“Alexa, call Susan,”) but now, thanks to a recent feature to come to the UK, you can also call the mobile or landline of everyone in your contacts too – completely free of charge.

If you’ve had a fall and can’t reach the phone, being able to call for help via the A-lady could make all the difference. For the full low-down on how it works check out my recent post on hands-free calling using Alexa. Note – current exceptions include premium numbers and, importantly, emergency services so it’ll have to be a friend or family member who helps make that crucial visit or emergency call.

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