Let’s Get Physical

You might want to stand up when you read this.

Sitting is killing us. It’s killing you and it’s killing me. Studies show that the average American is sitting down for 13 to 15 hours every day. And all that sitting is contributing to an uptick in chronic diseases and decreased bone density (broken hip, anyone?). What’s worse is that even if you do engage in some vigorous activity during the day, it’s not enough to counteract the damage being done by being sedentary.

Why? Because basically, the human body was designed to be active and move. All day. Every day. The muscular and cellular systems which process cholesterol, blood sugar, and triglycerides are all activated within 90 seconds of standing up. Just with the simple act of standing up, your body’s systems kick into gear and push fuel into your cells, reducing the risk of diabetes and obesity. When we stop moving, it’s like we’re telling our body to shut down and prepare for death.

But what are you supposed to do? You have a job. You have tasks that are required to be completed. You can’t just quit working, and you can’t tell your boss that you need to leave every hour to get a quick jog in.

Fortunately, there are a couple of apps you can turn to that will help get you moving, even if it’s only for a few minutes every hour.

StretchClock is my favorite. It’s a web-based app that you can access through any browser, as long as you have an internet connection. Simply bookmark the site and navigate to it, set the break reminder for, say, 60 minutes, and then every 60 minutes a window in your browser opens and you’re presented with an exercise you need to get up and perform. Nothing strenuous, mostly simple stretches but with a paid subscription (a measly $3/mo.) you get access to all sorts of other exercises. There are nine categories to choose from if you want to focus on a specific area. Me? I’m a designer and sit at my computer all day so the wrist, back, neck, and hand videos are lifesavers.

Time Out is a free app you can download from the iTunes store that does exactly what the name implies — it gives you a time out from your computer. It’s very similar to StretchClock in that you set your preference for how frequently you want to be reminded to take a break. When that time has elapsed, your screen gradually dims and the clock counts down whatever length of time you’ve set your break for. It even locks you out of your computer so that you can’t just work through the break, although it does allow you the option to delay for 5-10 minutes or to skip that break altogether. That skip feature sure comes in handy if the app goes off in the middle of a video conference meeting! The only downside here is that you have to come up with your own activity to fill the break. But it’s still better than trying to remember to get up and move on your own.

Do you have another app or site that you use to help you stay active? Let me know in the comments section. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? You’ve got to get up and move it!



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