You’ve probably heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” Great, my profession is a hazard to my health.

desk chair
Ergonomic seating, 1955. Designed by Hans J. Wegner. Click photo for more details.

So who do we have to thank for this new mantra? According to Health and Wellness Magazine, the phrase was coined by the American Institute of Cancer Research in 2011. I’ll spare you the statistics. Let’s just say I’m convinced.

I had my own wake up call last year, when my hip went into spasm and I couldn’t get into a chair or out of bed without excruciating pain. I actually walked to the emergency room holding my husband’s arm. Thank goodness it’s only two blocks.

Since then, I’ve been looking for ways to break my established habit of sitting for long periods of time. Fortunately, I’ve got the freedom to do as I please in my home office:

Standing desk

I’ve got a little box that I put under my laptop when I want to stand, or I use the kitchen counter for a break. However, I hate to write standing up. Read and do research, sure. But for now, I’m hardwired to write in a sitting pose.

Exercise ball

A favorite. While it’s still sitting, my hip is much happier when I use an exercise ball in place of a chair. It’s also supposed to work your core and you can bounce around when you feel antsy. Think hoppy-ball toy without the handle.

Movement breaks

The best way to counteract the effects of sitting is to get up and move. I now try to get up every 20-30 minutes. My repertoire of activities is growing. I like to:

1) Take a mini yoga break.  Sun salutations take the kinks out of my neck and shoulders.

2) Walk the imaginary dog. When weather allows, I do a lap around the block. The fresh air really recharges my battery.

I don’t have a toy imaginary dog leash, like these folks, but you get the idea.

3) Jump rope. This past winter, when the temperatures were bitter and sidewalks were pretty iffy, I started jumping rope in the basement. I get my heart pumping in a few minutes and don’t have to change into workout gear.

4) Dance. I especially love Pandora’s Bollywood options. Check out the soundtrack from Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India. Thumbs up! One song is usually enough to get me mentally and physically refreshed.

5) Housework. Five minutes of weeding, emptying the dishwasher, or moving the laundry along loosens my shoulders and gets the blood flow back to my keister.

Here’s the downside to the home office: It can be hard to turn a blind eye to things that need doing around the house and garden. When school gets out, I’ll face the “Aw, mom!” that comes when I turn on the music and start to shimmy.

Next, I want to master a new dictation function that came with my operating system upgrade. And I’m looking forward to productivity benefits. While I often consider my ability to concentrate a plus, I know that time doesn’t actually stand still when I’m writing–it just feels like that.