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How can an active sitting stool improve the way you sit?

Thanks to desk jobs and commuting, long hours sitting down are unavoidable for many people. Even if you make a concerted effort to get to the gym or go for a run in your leisure time, it’s not enough to counteract all those hours spent sitting down at work.

There are a number of different ways to add more movement into your workday: using a sit stand desk, taking the stairs instead of the lift and holding ‘walk and talk’ meetings. However, not all workplaces give you the flexibility to stand up and, besides, standing for too long comes with its own set of problems. That’s where active sitting comes in.

What is dynamic sitting?

You may not be able to sit less but you can always sit better. Sitting in one position prevents your body from getting the movement it needs. Active or dynamic sitting is an easy way to reduce the strain that sitting places on your body. Active sitting chairs keep your body moving while you sit by encouraging the same natural shifts in posture that occur when standing or walking. This additional movement improves posture, reduces stress on the body and strengthens core muscles.

Choosing to use an active chair instead of a normal office chair can make a significant contribution to your levels of non-exercise activity thermogenesis (or NEAT). NEAT activities include anything from household chores to walking to the office printer: any activity where you are moving but not really exercising. The more NEAT activities you engage in each day, the more calories you burn and the better your overall physical health will be. Given that periods of high-intensity exercise can’t make up for long hours spent sitting still, these small movements are important.

There are a number of different types of active chair available. Although different types will suit different people, what they all have in common is that they make your body work to sit upright on the seat, working the muscles in your back, legs and abdomen. They also make your legs do more work and promote a more open angle between your legs and torso, which prevents slouching, straightens your spine and takes the pressure off your back. This improvement in posture can help to reduce back pain.

What types of active sitting chairs are available?

  1. The exercise ball desk chair

Also known as a Pilates chair, this is the most recognisable of the options on the market. It is an air-filled exercise ball, sometimes integrated into a frame. The natural give of the ball means that you bounce slightly as you sit, encouraging micro-movements. It also requires you to keep your feet flat on the ground for balance, which opens up the angle between your legs and torso. Once you become more comfortable with the seat, there are a number of specific Pilates chair exercises you can do to increase your level of activity.

  1. The adjustable saddle stool

A common sight in healthcare centres and hair salons, saddle stools let you move around easily while you work. You sit on a saddle chair like you are riding a horse, which opens up the angle between your hips and knees to 135° (compared to 90° for “normal” sitting). This shift in position prevents slouching by holding your spine in its natural curve. This reduces aches and pains in the neck, shoulders and lumbar region. Your legs also have to do more work to stabilise yourself, which improves circulation in the lower body, takes the pressure off your lumbar region and reduces strain on the discs, helping to alleviate back pain.

  1. The wobble stool

This is the most active of the options available, giving you a much greater range of motion while sitting than any other type of seat. A rounded base means the stool is unsteady on the floor, which forces your body to work either to keep the seat still or stay balanced while it tracks your movements. This strengthens your core muscles and promotes a more natural posture. You can also use it as a leaning stool for a standing desk, giving you the support to stay standing for longer.

How do you change the way you sit?

Changing the way you sit can be challenging. The best way to get started is by swapping out your current chair for a standing desk stool for just an hour or two at a time at first. As your core muscles grow stronger and your spine adjusts to the change in posture, it will become easier to sit this way for longer. This type of chair also strengthens the muscles you use when standing up, making it the perfect halfway point between sitting and standing at your desk.

Should I use a desk bike?

If you want to take dynamic sitting one step further, an innovative way to add another level of movement into your daily routine is by using an exercise bike at your desk. By using a desk bike you can move as much as you want without having to take time away from your desk to walk around the office. Unlike the exercise bike you use at the gym, cycling at your desk is not about cardio training but rather maintaining a low steady speed to boost circulation and keep your body moving while you work. By replacing sitting or standing with this type of low-intensity workout, you boost your metabolism, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels and burn more calories.

On this website you will find a wide variety of active sitting stools. We recommend combining your new chair with an electric standing desk so that you can change your working position throughout the day and get the variety of movement that your body needs to stay healthy.