Help a nerd out! Donna asks, “What is the best tool or app to make sure I’m taking regular stretching and exercise breaks from the computer at work?”
Step Away from the Computer
When smoking in the office became taboo, the tobacco addicts took work breaks to huddle together in the smoking alcove outside.
If one looked to find any kind of benefit from the smoke breaks, it was the fact that works left their desks to walk around every few hours. These days many of us park ourselves in front of our monitor when the workday begins and only move for bathroom breaks or to sweep by the desk of the wonderful person who always keeps candy in a jar.
Today people who nag you about your heath say sitting is the new fettuccini Alfredo. Sitting all day at a desk can cause spine curvature, carpel tunnel syndrome, eye strain and a multitude of problems with your heart health and overall fitness. The health detriments add insult to injury because chances are you’re stuck at your computer trying to keep up with the crazy pace of our crazy busy lives.
But fear not! From the early years of web apps, developers have offered tools to help you remember to sit up straight and take regular breaks. Here are a handful of tools and gadgets that help us.
Site that Traps Your Curser Until You Take a Break
From the maker of one of my favorite older tools, Big Stretch by MonkeyMatt.com (ok, it may be that I love it just for his name), we have Regular Breaks, a web app that forces you to take breaks while you’re working away.
Activity Break Tool
This one’s made for teachers to help students get moving, but it also works for the office. Move It helps you take breaks with exercises designed to get your heartrate up for brief intervals. It’s an iOS app or Windows download, but you can use it with Chrome as well.
Site that Gives Your Eyes a Break
Protectyourvision.org offers a cool little web app with this adorable mascot that focuses on giving your eyes a break. I’m a little concerned that the page hasn’t been updated in a while, but the nerdy cartoon makes me love it.
Also Check Out…
Computer Lighting Adjustment Tool
My (completely awesome) former assistant Claire Parrish stumbled upon this tool: f.lux adapts the lighting level of your computer’s display to the time of day, such as warm at night and like sunlight during the day. After staring 8 hours at your screen, you’ll appreciate the mellow and adjusting light.
Hot Topic: How Can Gadgets Help Keep Me Moving?
Today’s wearables have built-in motion sensors that can nudge you when you’ve been sitting too long. My Apple Watch clanks me every hour to remind me to stand and be active for one minute, and if I do it 12 times in one day, I receive praise and sometimes even a badge. Silly as that sounds, it does motivate me to move from my computer and celebrate when I “win.”
Of course, the Apple Watch is a pretty pricey toy as an activity monitor, so you might try other fitness trackers, many of which run less than a hundred bucks.
You can also find gadgets to help with your posture. UpRight and Lumo Lift sense when you start slouching and remind you to sit up. Darma does it with a seat cushion. Boy do I need one of those!