One of the main issues for modern workers is sitting for long periods at their desks, with very limited movement during the day. The body needs to move to be healthy, and when it is restricted to very few, habitual movements, it can lead to decreased mobility, discomfort and/or illness.
Most people who work at a desk are aware that they need to get up and move their bodies around regularly during the day. Often, however, people forget. So then there is a role for innovative methods to remind people of their need to move and stretch throughout the day.
One of the ways to do this is through technology. There are many computer programs and apps that you can install on your devices that remind you periodically through the day to get up and move your body. Here is a list of some of our favourites:
Stretch Break (PC or Mac, free)
The graphics are a little retro, but the functionality and stretch advice is excellent. You install this little program on your computer, and then choose when you want it to remind you to have a stretch. It pops up on your screen at your appointed times during the day, giving you an animation to follow and a description of the stretch, with an option for relaxing music to accompany the mini break.
WorkRave (PC or Linux, free)
With this program, you can set micro-breaks, which prompt you to take a 30-second break to look away from the screen, as well as rest breaks, which are longer breaks during which time various activities and stretches are recommended. It is fully customizable, allowing you to set your desired break times and the activities that you do during those times. The graphics are again slightly dated, but the functionality is excellent.
Stretchly (PC, Mac & Linux, free)
This is a break time reminder app that creates a pop-up window with a suggestion for a break. There are no graphics, just a sentence on the screen with a recommendation of an activity to do. By default, there is a 20 second Mini Break every 10 minutes and a 5 minute Long Break every 30 minutes (after 2 Mini Breaks), but this is fully customisable.
StretchMinder (iphone, free version + premium version)
A nicely designed app for the iphone, you can customise stretch breaks according to your schedule. You can choose between 3 types of activity to be prompted to do, either movement/stretching, breathing/relaxation or walking. The free version features a small selection from the above 3 categories. The premium version at $4.75/mth unlocks the entire package with a wide variety of exercises to do. The exercises are demonstrated in small animations. One drawback of the app is the robotic voice used to describe the movements.
100 Office Workouts (Android, free)
This is a fairly bare-bones app which is nonetheless rather excellent. It provides a wide range of styles of office exercises, including chair-bound movements, stretching, 60 second high-intensity workouts, “no sweat cardio”, and a lot more. Each category features many different sequences which are presented as a poster with pictures that you can zoom in on. A small timer is supplied for 10s, 20s or 60s with a small chime at completion.
Desk Job – Office health and fitness (iphone, $1.49)
This app features a timer which you can set at any interval to remind you to get up and move your body, and also provides you with a list of stretches and strengthening exercises which you can choose from for your break. Exercises are provided with simple explanations and a photo for each one.
Ergonomics – (iphone, $1.49)
“Workplace wellness made easy”: this is a beautifully designed app which provides stretch routines and instructions on how to align the body. The stretches feature original illustrations which are beautiful.
Office Workout – exercises at your office desk (Android, free)
This app groups different stretches by the hour that you are at work, with different routines for each hour. Exercises are illustrated by basic animations. It also provides a break timer to remind you to drink water or have a stretch.
One of the important ways to make sure that you can work comfortably in your desk space is to ensure that your ergonomics is correct. HSG provides workstation assessments and an ergonomic consultation service, whereby an Occupational Therapist visits your employees’ workstations (be it at the office or directly at the home of your remote employees) and advises them directly of what they should do to promote better working posture.