WEB & TECH / NOV. 21, 2014
version 4, draft 4

How an App Can Get you Out of Your Chair at Work

It’s well known that exercising is beneficial to our performance and general wellbeing at work.  I wrote recently about the performance boosts you can gain from taking a simple, and relatively short, walk in the park.

This is great, except we’re generally speaking not very good at taking this medicine and getting off of our backsides.  Indeed, Dr James Levine from the Mayo Clinic in the US, recently made a splash by comparing our sedentry work lifestyle to smoking (or saying sitting is the new smoking as he more succinctly put it!).

"Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death."

This is pretty scary stuff.  It’s been suggested that prolonged sitting is linked to a higher chance of developing a whole raft of dangerous illnesses, including heart disease, cancer and type two diabetes.

What’s more, the consequences of this are generally not something we can then subsequently reverse, which is another reason why the smoking analogy is quite apt.

How technology can help

Hopefully that has sufficiently grabbed your attention.  So what can be done to improve things?  Well, there are a number of services being developed to try and help nudge us into better, and healthier, lifestyles.

One of the more interesting is a new service called Nudge Kick. The service takes the view that a major part of the problem is that there are just so many things on the web that keep us hooked.  Whether it’s checking Facebook, playing our favourite game or doing some shopping, there are all manner of things that keep us hooked firmly to our desk.

So Nudge Kick goes straight to the heart of the problem.  Their service promptly disables all of your favourite sites and apps until you’ve got off your backside and done some exercise, at which point they let you back on.  The exercise portion is tracked via their in-built fitness tracker, or alternatively you can check in at your local gym with the app.

The service comes in both app form (on Android), but also as an extension to the Google Chrome web browser.  The service, which is currently in beta form, allows users to select their regular gym from a list of facilities in the local area, and also the apps or websites that they would like some help going cold turkey on.

They’re then asked to set some simple daily, or weekly, goals that they’d like to achieve.  These can be walking a particular distance, or going to the gym 3 times a week.  You then set the time you’d like to do those things and schedule specific days, and off you go.  Come that time and date, the app will kick into action and block access to all of those addictive sites for you until you get back from the gym.

Now, it goes without saying that there are ways around this should you be sufficiently inclined, just as there will be with most things, but if you’d like a friendly nudge to be more active, then this could be for you.

 

Image: iStock

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