By Vanessa Voltolina
Many of us start off the day with the best of intentions; you’re committed to working out during your lunch break, or plan to do a set of stretches once an hour. Then, reality hits. The end of the day rolls around and 100 emails have been answered, but you’ve failed your personal fitness goal. Or, playing on the computer and watching a week’s worth of shows on DVR took over. It happens to all of us.
While this may seem harmless at first, over a period of time, being sedentary has been linked to shortened lifespan and other health-harming issues. One report estimates American adults spend about 55 percent of their time being inactive. Inactivity has been linked to diabetes and death from heart disease or stroke. If this wasn’t scary enough, a new study published in the online journal BMJ Open finds the risk is even greater than we think. While sitting is not a disease, but a risk factor, experts say the not-so-good health impact is comparable to obesity, and almost to the level of smoking. The study found that sitting for less than three hours a day might make us live an extra two years, and cutting TV viewing—which most of us do while sitting—to less than two hours every day may extend life by almost 1.4 years.
There are, of course, countless ways that we can be more active with little effort: a stroll after dinner, a walk over to a co-worker in place of sending an email, or standing while typing on the computer. The majority of us know what we have to do, but the battle is fitting it into our busy lives. Enter desktop and mobile reminders, which may prove to be essential to our fitness levels. These apps can remind you to get up and walk around, or do some kind of movement activity, to promote a longer, healthier, pain-free life.
There are mountains of desktop, mobile and tablet applications on the market, but here are four that effectively mix fitness with reminders.
#1. Healthier: BreakReminder
What it is: Healthier’s Break Reminder helps balance work and health by periodically nudging you to take a break from your computer. It not only provides reminders, but motivational quotes and office-suitable exercises for both eyes and body that you can follow during the breaks. It’s animated menu bar icon shows how much time is left to work between breaks so that you can plan accordingly.
Who it’s for: If you’re usually tethered to your computer and need a bit of coaxing to get up and move, this one’s for you.
Where it’s available: Mac App Store, $3.99
What it is: This tool helps overcome “life gets in the way” syndrome, with 30+ exercise how-tos for six target body zones that you can do anytime, anywhere. While not a reminder per se, this app features customized moves that can be done while at your computer, in a meeting, while traveling or during your commute.
Who it’s for: If you are constantly on-the-go or travel often for work, consider this app.
Where it’s available: iPad, iPhone, Mac, Android and Nook $1.99-$2.99
What it is: Memstash is an online memory tool. It’s memory enhancing abilities are a fun way to get daytime activeness into your routine. Memstash allows you to highlight anything you want to remember on the Web and “stash it.” Whatever you have chosen will be sent to you via email or text message at just the right time (around three times per day) to ensure you remember. In the case of fitness and movement, you might want to highlight a favorite stretch or 5-minute mini workout. This way when you receive a reminder during the day, it’s a visual of what you should be doing to get up and moving.
Who it’s for: For those looking to improve short-term memory and are distracted easily, this reminder system will keep them on point.
Where it’s available: http://memstash.co/
What it is: This desktop tool reminds you to take breaks and exercise regularly, as the makers of the app believe that people want to be more active, but simply forget. Their reminders work to revive focus, prevent repetitive strain injuries and health problems related to sitting and staring at a screen too long.
Who it’s for: Mac users who know the benefits of taking a break, but just need a bit of a push.
Where it’s available: Mac App Store, $3.99
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