Healthier v1.3 review: Taking a break may increase productivity

There is little doubt that the longer you work without a break the less productive you become. This is particularly true of creative people where stagnant ideas are next to useless. Taking a break requires no more than a simple timer and alarm but Healthier looks to make the whole experience more interesting by incorporating exercises and motivational quotes.

Running as a menu bar app, Healthier is a good example of what can be achieved with a minimalist user interface. Set the times for working and resting and Healthier’s good to go. The menu bar icon acts as a visible timer, filling in as time progresses, and a click on the icon drops down a digital timer, counting down to your next break. Healthier can also be set to open at login and to sound an alert when the timer’s at zero. It also has an optional smart rescheduling feature where the timer freezes if you leave your computer for four minutes or so, starting back at a full countdown.

Healthier’s dropdown timer shows the time left until your next break

Nicely styled – good use of a minimalist preferences panel

Few people are going to pay £2.49 for an app that’s a small step up from a stopwatch so the author has added two other features: a set of 14 exercises and 50 inspiring quotes. Depending on the preference you set, either an exercise or a quote appears when the timer reaches zero.

Each exercise has a name and is generally intended to be carried out in an office environment. They’re divided into two groups (for the eyes and the body) and this is where I start to have a problem with Healthier. While eye exercises are recommended by some opticians, there is very limited scientific evidence to support the claim that they are beneficial. It has also been shown that there is no connection between eye damage and either watching television or working with a computer screen. In fact, the problem of eyestrain has more to do with a room’s lighting than anything else.

Good photography but the exercises have no scientific basis

Interesting one-liners rather than inspirational quotes…

Exercises for the shoulders, neck and legs, illustrated photographically, are the standard ones a physio would give you but really don’t go far enough. If you’re sitting at a chair in an office you have that chair, the table and walls to work with. Using a towel to give a little resistance also helps yet Healthier completely ignores these. There isn’t even a mention of the most basic exercise: get up, walk about, rehydrate with a drink of water.

The set of quotes are interesting although I’d draw the line at calling some of them motivational. Would looking at such a quote for a short time inspire me to greatness for the next 45 minutes? Probably not.

OUR VERDICT

Healthier is one of a number of ‘take a break’ style apps, many of which are free. Unfortunately it’s more a matter of style over substance and as such it fails to lift itself above the crowd. Instead of reading one of Healthier’s quotes, you’d probably be better off spending the five minutes finding one of the many websites with office-based exercises.

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