‘Sitting is the new smoking.’ This saying has taken the internet by storm along with the introduction of everything from standing desks to gel mats, and ‘wobble stool’ seats to balance boards. In the last 50 years jobs requiring at least moderate physical activity have declined form 50% to less than 20% in the United States. Unfortunately, the more technologically advanced our society has become, the less healthy and well our physical bodies have become leaving us suffering from a multitude of illnesses and disease.
Sadly, it is not only adults suffering the harsh consequences of this constant state of inactivity. Not only do the majority of adults work desk jobs in our modern day society, but children as young as 4 and 5 years old are being relegated to desks for 6+ hours a day, forced to curb their natural inclination to stand, run, jump, and play. From preschool on the human race has literally begun training our offspring to partake in the unnatural and anatomically damaging activity (or inactivity) of sitting for hours on end. When children cannot comport to this sedentary state, they are frequently medicated, forced into compliance.
Further, after sitting at either work or at school all day, most of our entertainment at home involves sitting in front of a television or computer screen. Whether watching shows, playing games, or chatting with our online community of friends, sitting is the thing we do most.
Now that is not to say that we don’t exercise or that or kids do not participate in extracurricular activities and sporting events, however research has shown that is simply not enough. “Marathon sitting” for hours on end cannot be counteracted by one hour of activity – metabolism slows down 90% after 30 minutes of sitting, the electrical stimulation and muscles in your lower body shut down, and good cholesterol plummets creating issues with insulin sensitivity and the ability of enzymes to move the ‘bad fats’ through your arteries.
The real question lies in what to do. While large scale change in our schools and jobs would be ideal, that is unlikely to occur anytime soon for many of us. Whether it is our child sitting in a classroom all day, or ourselves, the adults, working in offices, cubicles, or even shared workspaces, escaping the monotonous state of sitting may be unlikely or even impossible. Thus active sitting is the solution.
What is Active Sitting?
Active sitting, also known as dynamic sitting, encourages the body to remain in motion rather than in a rigid sitting posture. Since our bodies are meant to be in a perpetual state of motion, seating solutions that require us to engage our core muscles actually promote spinal positioning and muscle stimulation.
Active seating solutions typically have you seated at a higher level than a desk chair increasing the angle of your hips which in turn requires more work from your core muscles to stabilize your spine and keep it in a more natural position/state. Further, active sitting chairs generally move placing you on an unstable surface when seated which engages more stabilizer muscles – basically it is impossible to slouch and zone out when seated on an active sitting chair or stool simply because your body is working to maintain its own support. Your core and leg muscles remain engaged keeping your bodies systems active and alert.
The Health Benefits of Active Sitting
Have you ever been seated next to that person who taps their pencil, bounces their knee, or basically just can’t sit still? Well, experts say that constant activity is good for your health. Active sitting brings movement to the work or school space with wobbly stools, balance balls, and other seating options that promote movement while you sit which helps to improve concentration, implement better posture, and boosts energy levels throughout the day.
The benefits of active sitting include:
- Loosens spine and neck muscles because a moving seat forces you to straighten your back, pull your shoulders back, and in turn correctly position the head and neck.
- Straightens rounded backs or improves posture by implementing the natural S curvature of the spine. This leads to improved breathing and digestion because it takes pressure off of the internal organs such as the lungs and stomach.
- Activates and reinforces core muscles in the lower back, abdomen, and legs.
- Reduces lower back pain.
- Allows for mobility of the pelvis keeping ligaments and tendons active and loose.
- Improved concentration and focus due to better blood flow and glucose metabolism throughout the body increasing brain function.
- Improved sensory focus and awareness in children, along with improved test scores and classroom performance.
Active Sitting Solutions
From the classroom to the boardroom, active sitting solutions are available for children and adults of all sizes. Whether you are looking for alternative seating solutions for your elementary school classroom or seeking to improve the health and overall work performance of your employees on the job, the options are extensive and we have found a few we love with features sure to inspire those around you to wake up and strive for a happier, healthier, sitting experience.
Active Sitting Solutions from fully
For the ‘active traditionalist’, the individual just entering into the active sitting forum, or even the older active sitter who just wants a more traditional desk chair, the Futu Desk Chair by HAG is your active sitting solution. This ergonomically designed desk chair features a “Balance Movement Mechanism” which readjusts the body’s center of gravity while sitting shifting the weight off of your tailbone, engaging your legs and core, and redistributing the weight throughout the body.
The seat and back are connected so any movement available – rocking, leaning, reclining – all move harmoniously as one with your body. The front of the seat pan is also sloped allowing you to tilt forward while sitting keeping the knees aligned below the hips, better aligning the spine, shifting weight off of the tailbone and thus relieving pressure on the lower back. Upholstered using a polyester knit designed to retain its tautness for years, this sleek, comfortable active sitting solution is both healthier for the body and sustainably made.
If you are looking for an active sitting solution that also keeps you mobile and moving around your office, look no further than the ILOA Saddle Chair. This adjustable height saddle chair on wheels gives you all the benefits of active sitting while also moving between multiple work stations.
The tall (adjustable for each individual) and wide stance of this saddle chair benefits your posture by opening the hips and knees, dropping the knees below the hips and bringing the spine into healthy alignment. Further, with the addition of the padded thigh support, you will sit comfortably all while engaging your core and easing the strain on the lower back. Crafted of sustainably sourced wood with a supportive, padded seating cushion, this stool will become a favorite around the home or office.
Never.Stop.Moving on this innovative, ergonomically designed active sitting solution, the Tic Toc Chair. This space saving, posture supporting chair is designed to encourage the body’s natural rhythm and motion making beneficial micro-adjustments to your body as you work. The swiveling and side-to-side rocking motions keep your body moving, your back aligned, and your circulation flowing throughout the day.
This lightweight, wooden, adjustable active sitting solution is a perfect seat for anyone anywhere. With just enough movement to keep the body moving, the joints activated, and the mind energized, the Tic Toc Chair is perfect for both children and adults in the office, the classroom, or the home. Available both with and without a cushion, you can customize your Tic Toc making it your go-to chair wherever life takes you.
Active Sitting Solutions from ergoErgo
Everyone loves the bold, innovative design and appearance of the ergoErgo. This active sitting seat is made to encourage good posture, improve balance and flexibility, and expand your breathing making it ideal for offices and classrooms. Similar to a balance ball, but offering much better stability, this active seat provides the user the simple ability to move and fidget thereby reducing stress by enhancing self-regulation, decreasing hyperactivity, and increasing focus.
This colorful, flexible seating solution is perfect for teaching body awareness and allowing movement while also being more stable and durable than other active sitting solutions. Made of recyclable technopolymer this seat is not only good for you, it is also good for the environment. The space-saving ergoErgo is lightweight and easy to transport, allowing it to be used anywhere – at home, in the office, at school, or in a dorm room.
Available in neutral or bright, fun colors, the ergoEgo also comes in three sizes. The original ergoErgo is the height of a standard desk chair, the ExtraErgo is for those 5’7″ – 6’4″ who may need a taller or wider seat, and the KidsErgo is perfect for classroom use.
Active Sitting Solutions from KINNEBAR
If you don’t want to replace your desk chair but still seek an active seating alternative for yourself or your child the KINNEBAR is the perfect solution. This portable, lightweight kinesthetic under-desk swing is ideal for busy, fidgety feet. With two sizes available, the KINNEBAR fits neatly, easily, and securely under a child or adult desk or table making this durable swing a simple solution to a big problem.
If you have ever sat near someone who taps or shakes their feet or legs when seated, the movement can be distracting. The KINNEBAR is a great solution because it is silent while in use and since it fits discreetly tucked under a desk, there are no distractions to the user or other students or colleagues. KINNEBAR is ideal for for high energy kids, those who struggle to focus, those with ADHD, Autism, or anxiety. For adults, the KINNEBAR has similar benefits along with increasing poor circulation, improving mental fatigue, clarity and focus, and improving lower back pain and discomfort.
While all of us need to get up, get out, and get more fresh air, we can at least improve our healthy outcomes with some simple changes in our offices and classrooms with active sitting solutions for everyone. These alternative seating options give each of us the opportunity to make the most of our long days at work – including the benefits to our mental health, concentration, focus and work performance. Give our kids the ability to move while they learn, allowing them to grow into healthier, active adults. Say goodbye to the rigid seating options of old – the large, heavy, leather desk chairs and the hard, uncomfortable classroom chairs our children despise – and introduce a new approach to sitting with an active seating solution in your office or classroom this year.