By now you have heard that sitting too many hours at a time does your body harm. For sure, planting yourself in a chair for eight hours a day is detrimental to your health, even if you exercise to compensate for this. To promote good health it is best for you (an office manager) to discard your regular office chairs and replace them with healthier alternatives.
Enticing office workers to give up their chairs can be a difficult task. Because, they always sat on conventional chairs, the majority of employees believe there is nothing better. In fact, so many of us are so set in our ways, why change?
Naturally, humans don’t like change. By trying an alternate seating arrangement, we fear that this will only interfere with our ability to work and possibly make us even more fatigued by the end of the day, especially if the substitutes for our chairs don’t appeal to us.
Still, you may be wondering, what can you substitute an office chair with? Surprisingly, there are numerous solutions to correct the adverse health effects caused by sitting too much. For more information, read on.
To understand healthy seating alternatives, we must understand the concept of active seating. This is simply a means of sitting on an object that stimulates are abdominal muscles while eliminating pressure on the spinal cord. Currently, there are a number of seating alternatives available as the saddle seat, the buoy, the medicine ball, etc. What options work great for some may not work as well for others. Therefore, it is up to each individual to find and use the piece of furniture that works best for him/herself.
The following are nine office chair alternatives from most basic to most complex:
1. Saddle Seats
Saddle seats such as the Humanscale Freedom Saddle Stool, have casters for easy movement. They are similar to office chairs except they are backless and the seat is shaped much like one on a bicycle. Because they lack a back, this prevents a worker from slouching back in his/her chair. This seat aims to lower your thighs, open your hips, and positions your spine into a “healthy lordotic curve.”
Considering the flexibility to tilt, wobble, and swivel like the medicine ball, the Buoy may be a great office chair alternative. By tilting by 5º to 12º, you are more able to get your spine and body out of the C shape that is naturally created by sitting in a chair. These sturdy units come in a variety of designs and colors to go with most office décor.
3. Kneeling Chairs
Providing a more “open and dynamic” sitting position, the natural curvature of your spine is preserved. These chairs promote optimal breathing and circulation as well as the functionality of abdominal muscles. This form of active seating has been proven to enhance creativity and concentration as well.
4. Balance Ball Chairs
The ultimate strengths of these chairs are to reduce nerve compression, improve spinal alignment, and strengthen core muscles. Best of all, you can remove the balance ball and use it for exercise in the office.
5. Balance Stool
Working much like a balancing ball, this device prevents you from slumping and slouching, forcing you to sit with proper posture. The Swopper and similar models, bounce up and down as well as side to side. Not only does this promote active sitting, it also stimulates your core muscles which help you maintain a good sense of balance. Unlike exercise balls, balance stools are made so you won’ roll freely. However, balance stools are pricey as they range anywhere between $200 and $700.
6. Walking Desk
Now you can burn as much as 120 calories per hour while doing your office job. Dr. James Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, discovered that any incremental movement, including fidgeting, increased the number of calories burned while sitting at a desk. With this in mind, he invented a computer workstation to promote better health through burning calories. The Walking Desk acts like a slow motion treadmill where a worker walks extremely slow while performing his/her job.
Dr. Levine did a study by allowing 15 obese middle aged people who had no regular exercise regime to use it. Through using the treadmill, these workers burned 119 calories more per hour than they would have by sitting on a regular chair. He determined that by using the desk 2 to 3 hours a day led to an annual weight loss of approximately 45 pounds. Considering this, the Walking Desk makes a great alternative to using an office chair.
7. Stir Kinetic Desk
What’s best is to maintain a balance between sitting and standing over the course of your workday. The Stir Kinetic Desk contains a voice-activated device that “reminds” you when to change from sitting to standing and vice-versa. Also, it raises (or lowers) itself to a custom height you set. And if that’s not enough, it comes with a built-in touch screen that interacts with Fitbit devices via Bluetooth.
8. Technogym Wellness Ball
This seat has proven to be an effective way to keep your core engaged and enhance back strength. With its weighted bottom, you need not worry about the ball rolling across the floor as you get up. You might even say that it’s a gym within the office, and that you are exercising whilst working.
For workers who suffer from back pain, sitting back in a reclining position may be more effective than sitting upright. According to a study survey, 72% of those with back pain felt less pain while lying down or reclining. Hence, the best position for these workers is to recline back with their feet propped up on an ottoman or footrest. Likewise, using a laptop stand while sitting on the recliner, makes working so much easier.
For better office health, there are still more options. Simply enter the words: “healthy alternatives to office chairs” in your favorite search engine and you’ll be amazed at the search results.
The notion of replacing office chairs may seem daunting to companies, who’ve invested large amounts of money into office furniture. Throwing away out tens or hundreds of chairs may not seem so cost effective, especially if they’re still in like-new condition. Also, there is the likelihood that workers might despise trying healthy alternatives and insist on having their old chairs back. After all, people do tend to resist change. Thus, it is best to try one of these units out yourself and if you love the results, purchase more.
Even thogh investing in one of these alternatives may seem a bit spendy, if successful, they can save great costs in the long run. Health care costs can be greatly reduced and likewise, so can employee absenteeism. If workers benefit from one of these units, employee turnover can also be reduced; apart from the fact that workers may live longer, happier lives. Your employees will thank you.