From neck pain to eye strain, to even RSI, a sedentary lifestyle at work can lead to a lot of problems. But reminding yourself to get up from your seat and take a break, isn’t that easy either. One way to fix this problem is to get a smartwatch like Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch or even a cheap fitness band like Mi Band; these are programmed to automatically remind you, to get up and start moving, if you are sitting in one place for too long.
But guess what, even if you don’t own a fitness band or a smartwatch, you can still download a third party app on your computer or smartphone, that will remind you to take 5-10 minutes to break, every hour or so.
Taking Break isn’t Enough
There are three major factors which lead to body strain from desk job:
- You haven’t moved from your desk in hours
- Your eyes are glued to the monitor for long durations
- Your posture is bad
So, to fix this, we’ll suggest apps that not only give you a reminder to take a break at work but also suggest some light exercise and blocks the blue light coming out of your devices. Let’s begin.
Apps to Remind You to Move At Work
WorkRave is a simple application which reminds you to take a break on your computer. Once installed, the application shows you a notification every few minutes reminding you to take a short breather of 30 seconds. It is called a microbreak. After every 45 minutes, the application reminds you to take a longer break of 10 minutes. This combination of breaks ensures you get sufficient time to stretch your body without moving away from your desk. It shows a popup with the exercise animations so that you can follow the steps properly.
Of course, you can customize the ‘break time’ from the Settings. There are different modes like the quiet mode, reading mode, etc, you can choose a preference in the options. If you tend to ignore subtle notifications, there is also a strict mode which would block you from working and force you to take a break. WorkRave is available for Windows and Linux for free.
If you have Windows 10, you can simply activate Night Light by following these steps. Press the “Start” button, go to settings and click on System. Look for Display option and click, Turn Night Light On and adjust settings.
If you have a computer running on macOS, use Stretchy. It’s an open source cross-platform app i.e. it’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Like the previous app, reminds you to take micro and short breaks after set time intervals. It runs in the System tray by default and only notifies you when its time for a break.
The interface is rather minimal, 30 seconds before a break starts, Stretchly sends a notification to prepare you for the upcoming break. You can also choose an audio notification when the break ends.
Stretchy also comes with a unique feature called Strict Mode, which once enabled won’t let you skip breaks. I suggest you use this feature wisely, as breaks should not hamper your work productivity as well.
The most important feature of this application is that it monitors your computer usage, and if it detects an idle time more than the break time, it automatically resets the break time. It makes the application efficient and won’t bug you unnecessarily when you’re concentrating on your work. Stretchly is completely free and opensource, you can get it on GitHub.
Like Windows, macOS also comes with Night Shift feature built in, which automatically changes the color of a display to a warmer temperature at night. To activate this, simply, Go to System Preferences and click on Displays option. Night Sight has its own section, you can turn it On or Off, and adjust settings.
Even if you don’t sit in front of a computer all day, you still should stretch every once in a while. Stand Up is a great iOS app which sends a break reminder on your iPhone. You can set a time slot in which the app would send you a notification after every few minutes urging you to stand up. You can select days, break timing, location, and notification sound in the settings.
It isn’t as sophisticated as the other apps for computers and that’s the reason I chose this app. The app only sends you a notification and doesn’t bug you too much. Standup is free on the App Store.
Another great reminder app for iOS is Deskjob. Unlike Stand Up, Deskjob sends you the reminder to exercises. You can set a time interval for breaks in which you can get up from your desk to exercise.
The app has over 70 different stretching exercises which would help you stretch your muscles. Although there are a few exercises which you can’t do in the office but are rather effective. You get proper instructions with an illustration which you can take as a reference while exercising. The app costs $0.99 on the App Store and is well worth the price.
Finally, to prevent eye strain from the blue light coming from your iPhone, you can use the native Night Shift feature. Just like macOS, all iOS device has included this feature since iOS 9.3. To enable this, go to Settings, tap Display and Brightness, and select Night Shift. Here you can turn it on, adjust the schedule automatically or set a custom schedule.
Randomly Remindme is a custom reminder app which not only reminds you to step away from your computer, but you can also set a reminder for anything. The biggest advantage of this app over other apps is that it can be triggered through a variety of options. You can choose random which would send notifications at random time intervals during the day so that it doesn’t get predictable. You can set triggers based on location, time or interval based. The app is free on the Play Store.
This next Android app, Office Stretch Exercise will teach you how to make the most of the short office break and stretch effectively. Office Stretch Exercise app has a collection of exercises which you can do right from your desk. There are 8 exercises in total which aims at your shoulders and neck muscles, you can follow the instructions to complete each set. If you follow the routine regularly, it can alleviate back, shoulders, and neck strain. The app is free on the Play Store.
Like Windows and Mac, most Android smartphone also comes with a blue light filter called Night Mode. To activate it, just go to Settings > Display > Night Light. This would reduce the strain on your eyes and help you focus better. If your phone doesn’t have the feature, you can download Twilight from the Play Store.
Best Apps to Remind You to Move at Work?
These were my picks for every platform, all of these apps help you take a break and prevent you from sitting too long. Eye strain is a very common problem and most OEMs have built-in solutions for it like the Night Shift in iOS and MacOS, Night Light in Windows, and Blue Light Filter in Android. For Neck, shoulders and back problems, apps like Office Stretch Exercise, WorkRave, and Deskjob work great. Tell us how do you keep the strain away while at work in the comments down below.