Despite our best intentions, good habits are hard to keep. Meal prep falls apart, morning workouts get postponed due to bad weather, and early bedtimes get wiped out by Netflix marathons. Smart home tech聽is trying to help us get our sh*t together: These tiny AI assistants can remind us to do things, and they鈥檙e harder to ignore than聽those constant alerts on your smartphone. But you don鈥檛 have to take our word for it 鈥 we checked in with health and wellness pros about how they use their smart homes.

What Counts As Smart Home Tech?

A woman chops vegetables with a smart home speaker on the counter

When we say smart home tech, we mean gadgets that make your home 鈥渟mart.鈥澛燚evices like your iPad or Apple Watch don鈥檛 count because they鈥檙e just as smart when you take them outside the house. But Amazon devices聽like Echo & Alexa and the Google Home range would definitely fit the bill. These are called smart home 鈥渉ubs鈥 because they can control other smart stuff you can install in your house聽鈥 like lights, TVs and streaming devices,聽security cameras, and thermostats.

If you haven鈥檛 seen the ads, here鈥檚 what you need to know: A smart home hub connects to your WiFi network. (So do any of the extras you want them to 鈥渢alk鈥 to.)聽When you set up your hub, you teach it to understand your voice so it can respond to your questions and commands. The result? A mostly hands-free way to do stuff聽like find recipes, update your grocery list, or even consult聽a virtual personal stylist.

Since most of us have a smartphone habit we鈥檇 like to kick 鈥 or even technology-related injuries to work on聽鈥 it鈥檚 pretty huge that聽these devices allow us to go screen-free without聽sacrificing the more helpful aspects of聽staying connected.

How to Use Smart Home Tech聽for Healthy Living

A woman reads a book in bed

1. Improve your sleep.聽Jeff Patton is a sleep and smart home expert with GE (or, more officially, GM of Connected Home Product Management for GE Lighting). He explains that smart lighting, like C-Sleep bulbs聽and the聽C by GE Sol, might be a big deal for people who have trouble getting up in the morning. 鈥淥ne of the key factors in healthy sleep habits is one many people don鈥檛 think that much about: light,鈥 explains Patton.聽鈥淲hat鈥檚 cool about smart home technology is we now have lighting designed to help reinforce the body鈥檚 natural rhythm to prepare the body to sleep and awaken more efficiently.鈥 That means warm light in the evening, which Patton says may help increase melatonin, and a more blue-toned light in the morning, which can help you stay focused. Besides controlling smart lights, your home hub can help you get better sleep by聽eliminating聽any need for screen time before bed. You can use it to set an alarm, start a white noise playlist, or take you through a guided meditation session.

2. Blast those tunes.聽Mary Weidner, co-founder of the meal planning and training app Strongr Fastr,聽has one of the聽best聽home gym hacks聽we鈥檝e heard all year. When she鈥檚 ready to train, she says, 鈥淥kay, Google: It鈥檚 time to work out.鈥 Then, she explains, 鈥淸My Google Home] starts playing my workout playlist on Spotify and sets the volume to 70 percent.鈥 That鈥檚 not an automatic feature, FYI 鈥 Weidner set it up using the device鈥檚 shortcut commands. But since聽most of us聽agree that music is the key to a great workout, this hack is a must-try for anyone who trains at home.

3. Master meal prep.聽When meal prep falls apart, it鈥檚 waaaay too easy to fall back on our fave food delivery services. And there鈥檚 nothing wrong with that 鈥 but sometimes, all you want is a damn vegetable. 鈥淚 also use the Google Assistant to add things to my grocery list,鈥 shares Weidner. Shopping list management is a common feature across the home hubs on the market. In fact, in some regions, you can even place聽a grocery order聽with your device. It鈥檚 called voice shopping, and we鈥檙e equal parts excited about it and concerned for our wallets. Weidner聽also uses her hub to聽keep track of those orphan vegetables that usually聽get lost in the depths of the crisper until way past the聽expiration date. For example: 鈥淥kay, Google: Remind me Friday afternoon to use the zucchini for dinner.鈥

A woman looks at food in her refrigerator

4. Avoid food poisoning.聽鈥淚 also constantly am asking Google what temperature meat should reach when cooking. I never can remember that,鈥 concedes聽Weidner (#relatable). Eventually, though, Weidner wants to graduate to a smart grill. 鈥淵ou just insert the temperature probe into the meat, and your phone notifies you when you should remove it from the grill.鈥

5. Get centered.Heidi Jones聽is a Fort毛 coach and private trainer based in NYC.聽Her job sometimes makes it hard to find time to herself. 鈥淚 run all over the city to teach classes and meet clients at all times of the morning and evening,鈥 she shares. In such a high-intensity work environment, Jones craves moments of virtual stillness. 鈥淚 know it may sound silly to use Alexa to help me breathe聽deep,聽but if I don鈥檛 actually carve out this time, I won鈥檛 do it on my own,鈥 she admits. 鈥淚 simply say, 鈥楢lexa, start deep breathing,鈥 and she takes me through three minutes of guided breathing.鈥 There are plenty of guided meditation options available to Google and Amazon smart home users, from relaxing background tracks to Headspace sessions.

6. Squeeze in a workout.聽鈥淪omething surprising to many people is the fact that there are days when it鈥檚 tough for me to get in my own workout,鈥 says Jones. 鈥淓nter Alexa.鈥 Jones uses the Amazon hub鈥檚 seven-minute workout聽鈥 a full-body program including planks, squats, and step-ups. 鈥淚 don鈥檛 have to think about it or program for myself,鈥 she says. 鈥淎nd sometimes that聽[routine] is the only workout of the day.鈥 If you鈥檝e ever tried to hit the gym after a long day at the office, you know聽how tough it is to scrounge up the motivation to work out when you鈥檙e tired. But seven minutes? That鈥檚 totally doable. As Jones puts it, 鈥淥ne thing I know for sure is that any movement is better than no movement at all.鈥

Are you obsessed with smart home tech? Tell us how you use聽it to support your health @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)

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