App Appeal: Sworkit and Hold On!
Platforms: Android, iOS
Price: Free or 99 cents
Humans weren’t always sitters. Early man hunted prey, which led to us dominating most of the world. Laborers worked the fields or erected massive monuments to lazy. Only the powerful were allowed to sit, which is where the term “Chair” in organizations come from. Our ancestors stood for hours and hours and hours. Today we sit, all day, every day: At work, on the subway, in cars and back at home, where we watch TV to unwind from hours stewing in our own fat, nestled in comfortable desk chairs.
Sitting is death, and any breaks from it are necessary. Enter Sworkit, an app that allows one to pencil in tiny morsels of quickie exercise whenever one can manage. Whether you want light stretches or something more intensive — provided you don’t sweat through your ironed work clothes — it’s there, for however long you can manage. The moves are on random, thirty seconds at a time. Do five minutes of painful yoga poses, or a half hour of upper body stand-up pushes.
The app doesn’t force you to do any move. Don’t want to do “diamond push-ups” or “butt kicks?” It allows you to skip. Every two minutes it asks you to take a break. The only drawback is looking vaguely foolish in front of office mates. But you can stay smug, knowing that, unlike them, you’re probably not taking time off your life span by perching, ceaselessly, in a chair that’s more nice than any of us deserves.
Price: 99 cents
In the documentary (and subsequent musical) “Hands on a Hard Body,” residents of Longview, Texas take place in an absurd endurance competition: Everyone touches a pickup truck, and the last to release their hand wins it. The closest thing to a time-waster app version of that is Hold On!, which seems simple: All you do is press a button in the middle of the screen until you can press no more (or lose interest). The scores are almost certainly faked: The current winner (named “Me no hack”) has a score of 9:59:59:99. But it’s not about winning. It’s a casual way to contemplate on the nature of time: How long a long (or short) amount of time feels, how our perception of time slows down when we’re concentrating on each iota of it — and how we waste on silly apps like this.