I have always tried to lead a healthy and active lifestyle, in part because is well known that adults who are physically active are healthier and less likely to develop many chronic diseases.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, and many other groups agree that that adults can improve their health by doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.

Additionally they suggest that these activities should be spread throughout the week in increments of at least 5 to 10 minutes. For years I have tried to do this, but that's a lot of sessions and times and numbers to track!

I have tried many different approaches to accomplish this, including keeping different types of journals, but nothing seemed to work well. It was very frustrating!

Recently I realized, however, that by using Alexa I could make it so much easier to track my weekly activity minutes, and with my son's help, Wellness Tracker was born.

What It Does

Wellness Tracker is a simple life hack that makes it easy to track your daily and weekly minutes of physical activity. You tell Alexa the number of minutes you did for a particular activity, and Wellness Tracker will add that to your daily and weekly totals. For example, just say "Alexa, tell Wellness Tracker to add thirty minutes of yoga". That's it! Wellness Tracker will add those minutes to your daily and weekly activity totals.

Wellness Tracker understands many different activities, but you can also just say "moderate" or "vigorous" instead of a particular activity. That is, you can say "add twenty minutes vigorous" or "add thirty minutes moderate".

Don't worry if you make a mistake or if Wellness Tracker misunderstands what you say, because you can always tell Wellness Tracker to subtract minutes from your daily totals. For example, you can say "delete thirty minutes from moderate" or "delete twenty minutes vigorous".

Wellness Tracker will also tell you when you reach a total of 75 minutes of adjusted activities for the week, which we call "silver", or even better when you reach a total of 150 minutes of adjusted activities, which we call "gold". Wellness Tracker will also play a fun sound to celebrate your achievement.

Wellness Tracker makes it easy to know when you reach silver or gold!

To remind yourself of these goals you can ask "what is silver" or "what is gold". You can also ask Wellness Tracker for the total of moderate and vigorous activity minutes for the current day or week. Just say "what are my totals".

You can also check your results online by going to "" and entering your unique and anonymous ID number. This site makes it easy to visualize your daily, weekly, and monthly results. It will highlight all of the weeks that you reach silver or gold levels

This site has a list of moderate and vigorous activities that Wellness Tracker understands along with a complete list of instructions for the website and for using Wellness Tracker.

How We Built It

There are two main parts to our Wellness Activity Tracker: the Alexa Skill "Wellness Tracker" and our website. Our Alexa Skill was built using alexa-sdk and AWS Lambda. We used two DynamoDB tables on Amazon Web Services to store the data. Our website is hosted on The data in the DynamoDB tables is accessed using aws-sdk and then rendered into FullCalendar, which is a JavaScript event calendar.

Challenges We Ran Into

There were multiple challenges that needed to be overcome in developing our Alexa Skill and website. In particular, three things that I found difficult were 1) working with dates, weeks, and time zones in JavaScript, 2) modifying other people's complex CSS, and 3) incorporating jQuery and FullCalendar into

Accomplishments That We're Proud Of

A life hack should be simple, easy to use, and should make a life task easier and better. I am proud that Wellness Tracker accomplishes all of these goals. It is simple and easy to use, even though the code and steps needed to accomplish this are fairly complex. I am proud that we developed Wellness Tracker in a relatively short period of time.

What We Learned

I learned many things in accomplishing this difficult task of securely accessing online data via both Alexa and a website. In particular I learned about 1) security for DynamoDB using Amazon Cognito credentials and Amazon Identity and Access Management, and 2) using alexa-sdk and aws-sdk to read and write to DynamoDB tables.

What's Next For Wellness Activity Tracker

We are excited about the many possible extensions and upgrades to Wellness Tracker, which include:

  1. Expanding time zones (to include any time zone that the user wishes to use)

  2. Implementing more special sounds to celebrate gold and silver levels

  3. Developing the ability for Alexa to report (and modify) the data for any day or week

  4. Improving the reload button on the website (clicking this button should refresh the data without also needing to re-click the submit button)

  5. Adding the ability to track daily activities (so that each day on our website calendar view would show all of the activities done that day)

  6. Adding the ability to track calories along with activities (and show calorie totals on the website calendar)

  7. Developing the ability to determine daily and weekly totals for individual activities (such as asking for the daily or weekly totals for walking, running, etc.)

We hope that you will enjoy Wellness Tracker, and that it will make it easier to live a healthier life style. We value your input, so please email us with any questions, comments, or feedback to

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