XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> Ergoblog: Break Reminder Programs

« Patent Fights over Ergonomic Keyboards | Main | Ergonomics Cartoons »



Is there a law that protects us or allows to take 5 minute breaks every hour?
I usually take a break every hour, but lately my boss has been complaining if the too many breaks.
I think I read a fews years back in the New York Times an article where workers by law have a right to these breaks.


Hi Nancy,

I don't know of any laws that require a break every hour (not that I'm an expert on such things), but there are quite a few stretches and exercises you can do from your chair, so the boss doesn't notice you roaming around. Try http://www.mydailyyoga.com/yoga/rsi.html for some ideas, or when looking for a break reminder program, select one that shows exercises on the screen during your breaks.


The law will depend on what state you live in and, in some cases, what industry you are in. Washington state, where I work, requires a 10 minute break in the first four hours, a 30 minute meal period between hour 3 and 6, and a 10 minute break in the last 4 hours of an eight hour shift. Check with whatever the labor authority in your state is.


Good advice; thanks, Dave!

Jennifer Grucza

I've just started trying a program called Workrave (http://www.workrave.org/welcome/). It's free, and seems pretty nice so far. It shows pictures of stretches and exercises during the longer breaks.


I think you need to revisit your opinion of Break Reminder. I like it alot, and, indeed, the setup is kind of ocnfusing and painful--but there are presets for various levels of ergonomic safety and they work great. I really like Break Reminder.

Alan Seiden

Break Reminder is the most important part of my healthy computer use. I didn't have to configure much. I accepted most of the program's default settings, which force me to take 20-second micropauses that hide the screen. I need to be forced because I'm often concentrating intensely and otherwise would ignore the breaks. An added benefit of the breaks is that "stepping back" gives me a smarter perspective on whatever I was doing.

Greg Nixon

Micropauses are critical but they do not need to be very long. We sell a product called Peak Performance and recommend 8-10 seconds every five minutes. If you use it right you should never actually get a reminder because it is training tool and you just take your hands of the keyboard and relax them for 3-4 seconds every couple of minutes and the software takes into account your natural break.


Another piece of software to try is Quick Pause - www.quickpause.com. Recently this has become freeware. This tool also has a good logging feature thats enabled me to set and monitor my targets ( less than 2 hours solid typing per day )

Dmitri Sennikov

Free fitness break reminder app with 3 different exercises to do on each break. It also reminds you to drink your water. It is available at www.fitness-break.com.

Andy Hames

I've made one too and there is a free version of it so another one to try new for 2009. BreakHandler 2.0, very cool design and keeps things simple its at www.breakhandler.com


I've been trying out ExerciseMinder, which doesn't count any keystrokes or clicks--just displays a different exercise at timed intervals that you set. I think it has about 10 exercises, all of which you can do at your desk without looking goofy. This keeps your body active and gives you something to do during breaks besides sit there. And it doesn't knock you out of your current window either. http://exerciseminder.software.informer.com/


I don't know if you have seen WorkPause. It's a smart break reminder that monitors the way you work and adjust the timing between the breaks accordingly. It's a commercial program but well worth trying: www.getworkpause.com


Are there any of these work break programs that you don't need to download (like a google app kind of thing)? At work, I cannot download unless I get permission and the IT guy comes to do it for me. It is a big hassle and takes a long time with several layers of management hindering it - like Dilbert only not funny.

The comments to this entry are closed.