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Step Away From Your Keyboard! Top 3 ‘Take a Break’ Reminder Tools

Take a Break from your computer with these chrome apps

Sitting is the new smoking. You’ve heard it time and time again, you need to take breaks from your computer.

Eyesight diminishment, migraines, back pain, neck pain and scarier health concerns such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes are all side effects of hours and hours of sitting hunched over your computer.

As a posture and pain specialist I have witnessed many careers thwarted by the physical effects of desk-based jobs. I am particularly emphatic about enforcing correct desk stretches and timely breaks to minimise the potentially career threatening implications.

How do you implement these basic physical needs into your day? Myriads of developers have designed apps and programs to help remind you to stand up, look away, correct your posture, and take a stretch.

Many phone apps can do the job, however in my own implementation of these apps, I found it easy to “ignore” my phone when deep into the throes of a work project. Therefore, I focused on three Chrome extensions, since Chrome transcends most computer platforms. Here they are:

Micro Breaks by Kris Zima

Micro Breaks is easy to install, and has a handy icon that looks like a person taking a break (and jumping for joy). It offers customisable break timing in the following categories: eye breaks, breathing, exercise and taking an actual work break. Micro break’s reminders have a preset timing for each category that you can change and customise. It recommended the 20/20/20 rule for eyesight breaks: every 20 minutes for 20 seconds and to look 20 feet away from your computer.

Micro breaks desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store
Micro breaks desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store

Missing from the microbreak extension is the ability to add a “sound” reminder to the small reminder window that could be easy to miss.

Break Timer by tom.james.watson

Break timer has a coffee mug icon as its identification symbol, and simply works as a reminder to take any kind of break. I found this one amazing due to it’s simple full screen break capability. You can customise how often you want to take a break and it gives you a 30 second warning before you get a full green screen to stop you from your work and take the break. You can override it of course and continue your work, but I found it super effective in getting my attention to actually take the break.

Break Timer desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store
Break Timer desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store

Ideally, the next iteration of break timer offered content on what kind of stretches or exercises since the full screen pop up has plenty of real estate with with to deliver eye popping content.

Healthy Browsing by Mihai Cosareanu

Health browsing doesn’t have the most appealing icon, but it does an excellent job of reminding you in the following important categories: blinking, water, stretch and posture. The break reminders are small but are accompanied by the ability to add sound to the reminder (yay!). You can customise the break times and how often they pop up. The posture reminder piece definitely made me sit up taller and pay attention to how my body was positioned.

Healthy Browsing desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store
Healthy Browsing desktop app screenshot from Chrome Web Store

All these extension can be found for free in the Chrome store and can do wonders for bringing the dangers of our sitting epidemic to the front of your mind and the benefit of your body.

Zeena Dhalla

Written by Zeena Dhalla

Zeena is a Certified Posture Specialist and she created her blog VerticAlign. She helps technology professionals conquer neck and back pain that they may experience as a result of sitting for too many hours in a day.

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