Monday, April 25, 2011

A Simple Hourly Reminder to Get up and Exercise!

Driving in to work, SITTING in my car, I listened to the NPR story about sedentary behavior:
"researchers are beginning to suspect that even if you engage in regular exercise daily, it may not be enough to counteract the effects of too much sitting during the rest of the day"
The story was based on a study published in May 2010 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise by  Tatiana Warren et al. They studied baseline duration of sitting (while driving or watching TV) by mail survey in 1982 and measured differences in Cardiovascular Disease outcomes 21 years later.

A cross-sectional study published in April 2008 issue of Diabetes Care actually measured the amount of inactivity using an accelerometer for 7 days and found that increase in number of breaks in sedentary time was associated with better waist circumference, BMI, post-prandial glucose and triglycerides.

Can we extrapolate the results of these studies to say that "Taking a brief hourly exercise break from periods of physical inactivity will improve one's health?"  Probably not based on these studies but surely it can't hurt.  

A number of people exercise regularly for 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a week.  These people might be spending long hours at work sitting at a desk working on computers.  How can we get them to take an hourly break from computing to do some "exercise"?  There are several different ways to do this like setting up an hourly chime on your wrist watch or smartphone. This maybe a problem if it goes off in a meeting.  You may want this reminder only when you are sitting at your desk.  The ideal and simple solution is to set up the computer to do it!

Using the Windows Task Scheduler to do hourly prompts to exercise.
The simplest tutorial I found for Windows XP was this one:


  1. Open notepad 
  2. Type in "It is time for a brief break"
  3. Save as break.txt
  4. Start >> All programs >> Accessories >> System Tools >> Scheduled Tasks
  5. Add Scheduled Tasks >> start wizard
  6. Browse to Notepad.exe [Usually located in c:\windows\system32\notepad.exe
  7. Name the task "break" >> Choose Daily (we'll change to hourly later)
  8. Start time 8.00 (depending on when you usually get to office)>> Every day>> todays date
  9. Log in credentials 
  10. CHECK Open advanced properties....
  11. Task Tab >> browse to the "break.txt" file you created earlier
  12. Schedule Tab >> advanced >> Repeat Task >> Every 60 minutes >> Until Time 5:00 PM 
  13. Settings Tab >> Stop task if it runs for 1 min (this will close the break.txt file after it displays for 1 min)
  14. Leave unchecked "wake the computer to run this task"
  15. Click OK 
Enough typing, time for an exercise break!

Now if you are wondering what exercise you can do in your office, here are some great examples from