Can a digital assistant help you live a healthier life?
There’s an unlikely tool in your home that can help you get healthier — your smart speaker.
If you have a voice assistant in your home, what do you use it for? Playing music? Getting today’s weather report? What about building healthier habits?
“A voice assistant can be a useful tool in improving your overall health, whether that’s getting more exercise or tracking health metrics,” says Dr. Grace Guerrier, an internal medicine doctor at Geisinger’s Berwick clinic.
Set health goals
Before you set out on your quest for better health, start by thinking about the things you’d like to achieve.
“The first step when it comes to leading a healthier life is to make a goal for yourself, like walking a certain number of steps or unplugging at a certain time each night,” says Dr. Guerrier. Your device can help you achieve health targets like:
- Tracking workouts
- Sticking to a calorie budget
- Finding nutritional information
- Monitoring weight, blood pressure and other stats
After you set your health goals, call on your voice assistant to embark on your health journey.
Getting healthier? There’s an app for that
Achieving your health goals is easier when you have a partner. Your voice assistant can be your partner, helping you stay on track and encouraging you along the way. Use it to:
Reduce stress. Your digital assistant has various tools to help you relax — from guided meditations and soothing music to words of encouragement. “Developing a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body,” Dr. Guerrier says. Find something you like to listen to and start feeling calmer.
Get moving. Want a full-body workout with weights? Or maybe yoga is more your speed. Whatever you’re looking for, your device can help you find it. And if you just want to get up and move, set reminders to get off the couch or away from the desk. “Moving, even for a few minutes a day, helps lower blood pressure and improves heart health,” says Dr. Guerrier. Bonus: You may even shed a few pounds.
Find a healthy recipe. Maybe you’re stumped on what to make for dinner or looking for something to do with that swiss chard withering in the fridge. Your device can save the day. Browse recipes for inspiration or search for something specific. Entrees that hit certain calorie limits. Desserts that don’t contain gluten. Fiber-filled snacks. Once you have a recipe, use your device to add ingredients to your shopping list.
Manage doctor’s appointments. Your assistant’s calendar feature can track everyone’s medical appointments. Some devices will even sync appointments to your phone’s calendar. Have a prescription? Set a reminder to tell you when it’s due for a refill or renewal. Need to call your provider? Make a phone call with your device to schedule an appointment or ask a question.
Get better rest. Your smart speaker offers a few secret weapons to help you have a more restful night. Use it to wind down before bed, fall asleep faster and even turn on a home security system. If you haven’t already, move your device into your bedroom. Then ask it to help you create a bedtime routine. Bedtime routines could include:
- Turning down the lights
- Setting an alarm
- Playing relaxing music on a timer
- Reading an audiobook
Small steps lead to big progress
Creating healthier habits may feel daunting at first. But with the help of your voice assistant, you can make it easier to hit the goals you’ve set for yourself. Maybe you want to walk 20 minutes a day, limit takeout or try one new healthy meal each week. Any of these minor adjustments to your routine — and others — can yield major results.
“Those small habit changes will soon become a routine in your new healthy lifestyle that you can build on to make bigger changes,” says Dr. Guerrier.
And if you encounter a few roadblocks along the way, Dr. Guerrier offers this advice: “Be kind to yourself as you move along your path to better health. Health is a journey, and you won’t get there overnight.”
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Learn about primary care at Geisinger