Thoughtful, detailed coverage of the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, plus the TidBITS Content Network for Apple consultants.

Stand Up! The Work Break Timer that Wants to Save Your Life

Sitting is killing us. Study after study has linked extended periods of sitting to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and we presume tooth decay and the moral decline of society will be on the list soon. Unfortunately, even exercise doesn’t offset the harm done by sitting.

“A consistent body of emerging research suggests it is entirely possible to meet current physical activity guidelines while still being incredibly sedentary, and that sitting increases your risk of death and disease, even if you are getting plenty of physical activity,” Travis Saunders, a Ph.D. student and certified exercise physiologist at the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario told Runner’s World.

The common answer to the hazards of sitting is a standing desk, or even a treadmill desk, but not everyone can take advantage of those. Most people work in offices where they have little say over what kind of equipment they can use. Some people have health issues that prevent them from standing all day. Others, like yours truly, can’t concentrate well while standing.

Fortunately, research shows that standing up and moving around every 20–30 minutes offsets the damage done by sitting. You could manually set a timer to remind you to stand up, but I’ve found a free solution to make it even easier: the Stand Up! app by Raised Square LLC. It runs on your iPhone, so you can use it at your home or office.

Stand Up does one thing and does it well. Open the app, select which days you would like alerts on, set a time range for those days, set an alert interval, and if you choose, even set alerts to work only at your current location so it doesn’t nag you when you’re out of the office. For a 99-cent in-app purchase, you can choose from a selection of alert sounds, though the free default is perfectly audible and pleasant.

By default, the app features a yellow theme, but if you wish, you can change it to a number of other colors. Not that it matters much; after setting your preferences in Stand Up, you won’t be spending much time in the app. Now, every few minutes (45 by default), you’ll receive a notification on your iPhone telling you to stand up. If you’re in a meeting or other situation where suddenly popping to your feet would be inappropriate, you can tell Stand Up to remind you again later, and there’s also an always-visible graph that shows how many reminders you’ve explicitly acknowledged. Simple, and effective.

It does seem that Stand Up could make use of the iPhone’s accelerometer, both to acknowledge alerts automatically and to reset the timer if you stand up on your own before being alerted. Perhaps a future version will add some additional smarts in this area.

I’ve been using Stand Up for a few weeks now, and I’ve noticed less pain in my back and posterior. There are a lot of reminder apps out there, but Stand Up is free, well-designed, and can be taken anywhere. In addition to that, it might extend your life.


READERS LIKE YOU! Support TidBITS by becoming a member today!
Check out the perks at <>
Special thanks to Charles Hawkins, Gary Burkhardt, Robert Peterson,
and Harro de Jong for their generous support!

Comments about Stand Up! The Work Break Timer that Wants to Save Your Life
(Comments are closed.)

Charlie Hartley  2014-07-10 07:04
A note... it requires iOS 7.0 or better. Guess my old 3GS will have to do without.
Norbert E Fuchs  An apple icon for a TidBITS Benefactor 2014-07-12 00:32
I have been using on my Mac the (still) free "Time Out" (
Karen Kirtland  2014-07-21 20:23
I have another suggestion. Visit ABE stands for Activity Bursts Everywhere. This website provides a whole series of five minute exercises you can do standing or sitting at your desk, at home, or out somewhere waiting (say, a doctor's office).

Yes, I scoffed too, until I did one of the sets of exercises. Five minutes later I could really tell the difference. My muscles, ligaments and joints all felt looser and more flexible. My whole body felt so much better. I highly recommend it. And it's free.

I just wish it worked with my iPhone.
kevingolde  2014-07-22 06:22
Excellent suggestion on the web site which I found here: Thanks.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2014-07-22 07:18
ABE looks very good - the exercises match a lot of what I've seen in the You Are Your Own Gym book/app and things I've picked up from a variety of therapists and trainers over the years.
kevingolde  2014-07-22 06:28
I would also recommend the adjustable standing desks from They are not desks but platforms which sit on your desk to raise your monitor(s) and keyboard to your standing height. They are more affordable than a whole standing desk unit. Varidesk also has a timer application for your Mac. I am just a satisfied customer.
Louis Bergeron  2014-07-23 07:46
I checked the sources indicated in the article and I want to thank the author about them. Very informative. Taking breaks is a good and simple solution. A standing desk is not always practical.