Should You Buy an Active Chair? I Tested Some—and Talked to the Experts

You’ve most likely come throughout the time period “active chair” or “active seating” over the previous few years. These seats are billed as a countermeasure to the sitting epidemic—numerous studies have proven that sitting for hours at a time worsens health, rising the danger of weight problems, sort 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases

Pandemic lockdowns elevated the prevalence of distant work, which frequently translated to extra time in entrance of screens and fewer every day exercise. Since distant and hybrid work are right here to keep, a slew of corporations are introducing “active” chairs that promise to inject some motion into your day. So how precisely do they work? 

Active chairs are available varied kinds, however the most typical is an adjustable stool with a seat base that may rock to various levels. You hold your self balanced—together with your ft on the floor—and as the seat tilts, you interact your core muscle tissue to keep upright, all whereas writing that e mail or Slack message. Companies liken these changes to the sort of low-level bodily exercise that may alleviate the results of extended sitting. 

I have examined a number of lively chairs now, with combined outcomes. After I spoke to just a few kinesiology consultants—individuals who examine the physique’s motion—the consensus appears to be that lively chairs may fit for in brief bursts, however there are higher (and free) methods to counteract the results of sitting for too lengthy.

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Rocking Around

With all the lively chairs I’ve examined, I’ve by no means been ready to use one for a full workday. These stools are comfy sufficient to sit on for an hour or two, however finally I need to droop again and calm down my muscle tissue. You ought to take into consideration them not as a alternative in your workplace chair, however as a manner to swap issues up. However, the balancing act these stools supply may not be significant sufficient to be thought-about “active.”

“Movement is important,” says Anne-Kristina Arnold, who has been in the kinesiology subject for greater than 30 years. She’s at the moment chair of the Ergonomics Stream and a senior lecturer at the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. “Any kind of static movements in our bodies, we can only withstand and maintain for short periods of time,” she says, including that it “can cause discomfort and ultimately potential injury as well.”

The latter isn’t any joke. Look at the product web page for this active chair from QOR360 and also you’ll discover it asks you to learn a security discover that claims people who find themselves older or anybody who finds it tough to steadiness could have an elevated danger of falling whereas sitting on the stool.  

Arnold doesn’t suppose utilizing these chairs is inherently dangerous (so long as you’ll be able to steadiness your self), however she suggests a easy various: Get up and stroll round sometimes. “You’re going to get more circulation throughout the whole body rather than just those static contractions in maintaining your balance on the chair. If you’re into burning calories, an active chair is not going to work for you any more than getting up and going to the water cooler a few times during the day.”

If you undergo from again ache, chances are you’ll expertise some profit from an lively chair. Arnold notes that the ahead tilt helps carry the lumbar again right into a impartial place, however that is nonetheless one thing you’ll solely need to depend on for brief intervals of time. Otherwise, your higher physique can be too static because it tries to keep steadiness, and your abdomen muscle tissue are going to have extra pressure and fatigue, particularly over the course of a full eight-hour workday. 

“What we really want to do is design jobs that don’t require static work for long periods of time,” Arnold says. “We want to be able to encourage people to get up regularly and change their posture.” This doesn’t imply utilizing a standing desk for eight hours a day, which Arnold says is just as bad, or placing a biking machine or walking treadmill underneath your desk. 

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