2021 Active Chair Guide

Want to sit down & keep moving?

As the name implies, active sitting involves movement while seated. Peter Opsvik, designer of the Varier active chairs, says "The best position is always the next one." Active seats offer this opportunity for finding the next best position.

In the last 15 years, research studies have shown that sedentary behaviors and prolonged sitting are detrimental to your health. More recently, exercise scientists(1) have agreed that activity does not cancel out the negative impact of being sedentary. Much like eating an apple does not cancel the effects of smoking a cigarette.

As there is no perfect posture, the recommended consensus is for you to change position as often as possible. Let’s face it, as James Hamblin wrote, “you can’t undo sitting”. We have no choice but to sit, so we must ensure that we sit with our wellness in mind.

active chair types

Active sitting has multiple benefits(2). It promotes the strengthening of core muscles, which in turn reduces the possibility of developing back pain. Frequent movement causes muscle contraction. This increases blood flow, which results in better oxygenation. What a great way to energize both body and mind as you work from your home or office.

There are a few distinct active chair types available on the market:

The classic: Tilting chairs

Tilting is what transforms a traditional seat into an active chair. Different models(3) exist, such as single point pivot, synchronous tilt, or knee tilt. While each of these mechanisms reclines the chair's backrest and adapts the angle of the seat, the difference in experience varies significantly.

HAGDavisEurotechOM, or AMQ offer excellent versions of the tilt function. These chairs are the most popular due to their familiar design.

Pros & Cons
+ Requires no adaptation periode
+ Many available options
- Posture doesn’t improve significantly
- Activity relies on conscious movement

Active tilt chair by HAG
active kneeling chair by varier

The trendsetter: Kneeling chairs

Kneeling chairs have been used for over 40 years; since Peter Opsvik first identified posture and movement as being vital to better sitting. Benefits to the user's posture include widening the angle between torso and legs, redistribution of sitting pressure points, and allowing for proper spinal curvature. 

Varier, which distributes Opsvik's designs, is the bestseller in this category. It offers a uniquely engineered flexible design made of wood that increases movement to keep you active. 

Pros & Cons
+ Optimal posture improvement
+ Reduced pressure points
+ Increased unconscious & conscious movements
- May take a couple of weeks to adapt to sitting differently
- Legs move less freely

The bold statement: Saddle chairs

As with the Kneeling chairs, Saddle chairs, encourage you to sit in an upright position. This creates posture similar to when riding a horse; with your pelvis in a neutral, upright position and your spine supporting your upper body. 

This chair is popular amongst professionals who need to move around their space while sitting upright, with good support. The market leader in this category is Salli. It also offers a tilt or 360-degree sway mechanism for increased movement.

Pros & Cons
+ Best rated posture improvement
+ Optimal pressure distribution
+ Increased unconscious & conscious movements
+ Multiple accessories to adapt to any type of work
- May take up to a couple of weeks to adapt to sitting differently
- Isn’t compatible with regular desk height

Salli Swingfit Active chair by PhilZen
Active sway chair by Corechair

The creative: Sway chairs

Sway chairs, such as the Corechair, have become market leaders due to their sculpted seat (on which your derriere has never felt more comfortable!), their pelvic stabilizer, slide-preventing design and its ultimate motion flexibility.

Pros & Cons
+ Posture improvement
+ Requires little time to get used to it
+ Increased unconscious & conscious movements
- Isn’t compatible with regular desk height

The in-between: Perch stools

Think of them as providing a halfway point between sitting and standing. You can naturally engage the core, back, leg, and hip muscles, while seated on a Perch stool.

Varier or Corechair offer great stool options, which are loved by sit-to-stand desk owners looking for an adequate alternative to their common office chair.

Pros & Cons
+ Posture improvement
+ Increased unconscious & conscious movements
+ Compact design
- May not work for everyone's all day sitting

So, where do you start?

The many options may seem daunting. Which one will work for you? Don’t despair! All of these active chairs offer a significant step towards a healthier and more productive workspace. You can discover the detailed benefits of each chair in the product information pages of the different models.

Feel free to message us or call us (833 888 5289) if you have any questions. We can help you decide which active chair would be most suitable for you.

 

 

References:
1) The Futility of the Workout-Sit Cycle by James Hamblin for The Atlantic
2) Active Sitting Guide: 6 Reasons To Really Consider It by Meredith Chandler for the Ergonomics Health Association
3) Synchro Tilt and Other Tilt Mechanisms in an Office Chair Explainedby George C in Ergonomic Trends

 

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