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WorkRave on Ubuntu might just save your life

Don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time on my computer. I mean, A LOT.

Like many people, I work on my computer. My work is totally reliant on my computer, so there’s nothing I can do that doesn’t involve my computer (god help me if one day we run out of electricity).

I work long hours – loooong hours. And the type of stuff I do requires mammoth sitting-down sessions. My hobbies, like this blog for instance, also include computers. Like I said; I spend a lot of time on my computer. A LOT.

Often when I get busy with a bit of programming or writing an article, hours can slip by and I don’t notice. I don’t notice, that is, until I try to get up from my seat and my knees, legs and arms lock up. When I then reference the clock and realise I just sat in one position for 3 hours with nothing but my fingers moving over the keyboard, then I stop wondering why I suddenly locked up.

Joints that stop working and atrophied muscles aside, my flabby gut also indicates that I sit on my ever-increasing-in-girth ass waaaaay too much.  Getting older only amplifies these results of a computer-centered lifestyle.

Oh, give me a break

Exactly! The solution to the problems above (and possibly many that are yet to rear their ugly heads), is to take frequent breaks. 10 minutes every hour, says the experts, and micro-breaks every so often, just a minute here and there where you put your arms in the air and look beyond your screen.

The 10 minute breaks, I can assure you, are quite important, as it helps circulation. Nothing like poor circulation when it comes to the sports field or the bed room I tell you.

Alarms are great reminders, but I find myself killing those, or just ignoring them, pretty easily. Let me just snooze this alarm and off I go on a 2 or 3 hour sitting-down spree.

Enter WorkRave

It should be little wonder that Ubuntu includes a program that can save you from Repetitive Strain Injury. I think Linux users love their computers so much that they really just get up to eat (and pee, but only if the adult diaper is saturated), so it people like Rob Caelers & Raymond Penners to come up with something like WorkRave.

WorkRave is a neat little programme that comes with Ubuntu by default.  It essentially forces you to take regular breaks, and I’ve set mine so that it locks my computer so that I can’t ignore it and have to break.  Handy.

You can set it to remind you of micro-breaks, which gets a little annoying as it seems as if it warns you every minute, although it’s every 10 or 15.

When your hourly break rolls around, it also gives you some random exercises to do in the form of graphics, like stretching your arms, tilting your neck, twiddling your fingers and other RSI preventative exercises.

Then once you’ve done those, it locks the computer (you can set it that way, or not), and forces you to spend the other 9 or so minutes away from your computer.  I usually walk down the stairs or do something equally active, just to remind my legs what they’re there for.

So, do your body a favour and get this nifty little programme.  If you use it religiously, I’m sure you’ll find you have more energy and less aches & pains.  You might also just be able to sky someone in frisbee without falling down when your puny legs hit the ground.

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