One consistent piece of advice we hear from ergonomics experts is that sitting in the same posture for extended periods is not recommended.
Even if you exercise regularly, if your body remains static and sedentary while at your desk, it could be harmful for your overall health.
You can address this by getting up more often or using a standing desk. And modern ergonomic office chairs are even designed to encourage more movement than conventional task chairs.
These are all great ways to combat the problems that are caused by too much sitting in one position.
Yet, if you’re really looking to boost your energy levels, movement, and core engagement while sitting, there is another option: the active sitting chair.
In a hurry? Here are 3 great choices:
These alternative office chairs come in many forms.
In some cases, an alternative office chair could be as simple as an exercise ball that prevents static postures and requires you to stabilize your posture with your core muscles.
But many companies have come out with different types of stools and motion seating designs to add more support and comfort than a basic ball can provide.
There are lots variations out there.
Best Alternative Office Chairs for Active Sitting
To help you narrow down the choices, we’ve compiled this list of the best alternative office chairs designed to promote active sitting.
Keep on reading for details of each chair with a handy buyer’s guide at the end.
Let’s get started.
Note: If you’re looking for saddle chairs, which is another type of alternative office chair, have a look at saddle chair buyer’s guide.
Seville Classics Airlift 360 Stool – Best Overall
Top on our list is the Seville Classics Airlift 360 Stool. We love the affordable price of this chair, and it offers excellent comfort and stability.
Furthermore, it is incredibly easy to assemble, with no tools required. This active sitting chair advertises itself as a sit/stand chair, but its height only allows shorter individuals to stand while using it.
This stool employs a plush foam cushion and a non-slip base and it helps you to correct poor posture by engaging your core muscles throughout the day. The design is sleek, clean, and minimalistic, letting the chair seamlessly slip into your office, dorm, or home.
- The stool weighs just over 16 pounds
- 15.75” width cushion can comfortably carry most people
- This seat offers four inches of adjustable height (24” to 28”) with a gas pneumatic adjustment.
- The Swivel ‘N Lean feature allows you to lean up to 10 degrees from normal and rotate 360 degrees so you can spin, wobble, and tilt.
- Supports up to 250 pounds.
- Affordable price
- Adjustable height
- Lightweight and portable
- Comfortable and supportive
- Easy assembly
- Allows for many different motions
- Durable materials
- Slippery cushion
- May not be suitable for taller individuals
- False advertisement – does not work for most standing desks and comes with wheels
What Customers Are Saying:
Some users have complained that the cushion was slippery and that the height was too low for them to use with a standing desk.
The Seville Classics Airlift works best as a sitting stool, and you can consider purchasing a cushion cover to alleviate the slipperiness. Others reported that it came looking different than the photo as it had wheels. However, these are removable.
- STANDING DESK CHAIR - Rise from 20" to 28" high with a squeeze of the AIRLIFT lever for quick and quiet gas pneumatic adjustment
- SWIVEL 'N LEAN ACTIVE SITTING - Seat leans up to 10° off center and rotates 360° letting users spin wobble and tilt Use as a backless rocking chair when seated or bar stool while standing
Also Check Out: The Swopper Chair Review (Motion Seating)
Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair – Best Budget Option
The Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair is a low-cost way to improve your health.
The 20.5” diameter balance ball design promotes correct spinal alignment to relieve back pain.
It focuses on micro-movements that forge a mind-body connection, raising energy levels and increasing productivity.
The chair’s backing provides extra support, so you won’t have to work too hard to sit upright.
We appreciate that Gaiam consulted the chiropractor Dr. Randy Weinzoft when creating this design. That way, you know that this medically-approved chair will alleviate your back pain.
Also, it comes in lots of colors so you can coordinate it with your home or office. Not to mention the desk chair exercise guide helps to shake up your active sitting routine.
- Ideal for 5’ to 5’11” height range, but Gaiam sells 2” leg extenders for taller individuals.
- Weight capacity of 300 pounds.
- The ball chair comes with four caster wheels and an air pump to customize your experience.
- 13 pounds
- Low price
- Works for many heights
- Approved by a chiropractor
- Comes in lots of colors
- Lightweight and portable
- Promotes micro-movements and desk exercise routines
- Customizable firmness and removable wheels
- Prolonged assembly time
- Made of cheap materials
- May lack longevity and durability
What Customers Are Saying:
Some customers say that the setup process isn’t the quickest. You may have to inflate the ball several times with the air pump. Many user complaints derive from not properly pumping the ball with air and placing the back support on the wrong side.
However, if you follow the instructions, you should be able to assemble this chair easily.
Because this product costs so little, you shouldn’t expect the highest quality material.
Nevertheless, many have found great comfort and pain relief from this chair. If you purchase it, play around with the inflation to find the best firmness, and figure out if you want to keep the caster wheels.
Read more about the pros and cons of using a balance ball as your work chair.
- Boost energy & focus: Micro-movements from sitting on a balance ball chair work to engage the body and mind, leading to higher energy levels and increased productivity and focus at home, in the classroom at school or at your desk in the office
- Recommended user height: Designed for users 5 feet to 5 feet 11 inches tall and fits most standard height desks. For a taller chair, add 2 inches with the Gaiam Leg Extenders (Sold Separately) Weight Capacity = 300poundss
SWINGSIT Active Sitting Chair – Best Premium Alternative Office Chair
If you have a big budget, you may want to consider the SWINGSIT Active Sitting Chair. This chair swings with you, letting you continuously move while sitting. The Effecore technology imitates your core’s natural movement while swaying.
Swinging for 25 minutes provides similar benefits to a one-mile walk, like core activation, blood circulation, and posture correction.
This chair emphasizes its calorie-burning potential, making it a nice choice if you wish to lose a few pounds. Additionally, it increases energy levels, relieves back pain, improves posture, and boosts productivity.
The design keeps your upper body stationary, so only your core moves. That way, you can focus on your work while trimming your waistline.
- Comes with wheels, back support, armrests, a headrest, and memory foam cushioning for optimal comfort and support.
- The armrests and the seat have adjustable heights.
- Weighs 63.6 pounds
- High-tech chair swings on its own to help you move continuously
- Large calorie-burning potential
- Activates core while keeping head, neck, and shoulders stationary
- Usable as a regular chair
- Extremely comfortable and ergonomic
- Adjustable seat, armrests, and headrest
- Extremely expensive
- Unclear specifications in terms of dimensions, weight capacity, and materials
- Most reviews come from sponsorships
What Customers Are Saying:
Since this is a relatively recent product, a limited amount of users offered feedback. Majority of users like that you can lock the swinging action to remain still if you want to use it as a regular chair.
Others like the SWINGSIT Sensor that connects to an app to determine your calorie burn and your total number of swings.
This high-tech chair can innovate the way you sit without feeling like you’re exercising, as with many other active sitting chairs.
- WHAT IS SWINGSIT: SWINGSIT is a revolutionary active sitting chair that swings with you allowing you to get fit and workout while sitting for long hours. By introducing continuous movement while sitting, you are actually able to get the workout you need while sitting and being productive at work! SWINGSIT is comfortable, calorie burning, and active for better performance, health and posture.
- BENEFITS OF THE ACTIVE SITTING CHAIR: Continuous movement by swinging back and forth effortlessly on the chair help to activate your body and mind, ultimately benefitting your health. Effecore Technology helps boost circulation, tones muscles, burns calories, and improves your posture. It also increases energy, relieve back pains and increase your ability to focus and be productive.
Others were a little hesitant to try since there are no exact specs for weight capacity or dimensions. The higher price was also a drawback for some.
Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair – Best for Pain Relief
If you have chronic back pain from a sedentary lifestyle, you need an active sitting chair.
The Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair features a minimalistic Norwegian design and has existed for 40 years. It is a tried and true kneeling chair, made of high-quality materials for the best experience.
The wood is flexible and strong, and the design follows your body’s natural movements. The cushion’s padding and fabric are springy, durable, and comfortable.
Using this chair stimulates your muscles, with an emphasis on core balance. Strengthening these muscles minimizes spinal pressure and helps your upper body to relax with good posture.
This kneeling chair comes with fidget options so you can rock or wiggle around. However, you will need felt pads or soft tape to protect your floor, as the chair will scratch it.
- Variety of colors
- Wood supports instead of metal or plastic
- Weighs around 14 pounds
- Weight capacity is 240 pounds
- Minimalist design with many color options
- Lightweight and portable
- No height limit
- High-quality wood and padding
- Flexible, durable, and strong
- The original kneeling chair that has existed since 1979
- Manufactured in Europe
- Alleviates back pain by building core strength and balance
- Somewhat pricey
- No back support
- Height and kneeling pads are not adjustable
What Customers Are Saying:
Many love how lightweight and portable the design is, as well as its long history of availability. Some commented that while the Variable Balans has no height limit, is it not adjustable, so someone very tall may want a different product.
- The ONLY original kneeling chair designed by Peter Opsvik in 1979
- Now includes FREE soft tape ($50 value) for floor protection! Avoid scratches on hard floors
The Varier Variable is somewhat pricey, but the quality makes it well worth the cost if you want to alleviate your pain and introduce more activity in your life. If you want a solid and comfortable kneeling chair at a lower price point, have a look at our review of the Sleekform Kneeling Chair.
Learniture Active Learning Chair – Best for Children
If you have a child at home stuck on their computer or tablet all day, consider getting them the Learniture Active Learning Chair.
This plastic stool comes in a variety of heights and colors to fit your kid’s needs. It rocks and wiggles silently, making it perfect for class.
All in all, this chair is great for your active child that needs to focus or for an inactive kid who should get moving.
The bottom has a curved, textured, non-slip thermoplastic rubber that keeps the chair silent and still. Since it lacks backing, it encourages good posture and develops core strength. The chair itself comes from polypropylene, and it is simple to clean.
- The 12” one weighs 5.6 pounds and carries 75 pounds
- 15” weighs 3.53 ounces and carries 165 pounds
- 18” and 20” weigh 2.2 pounds and carry 250 pounds.
- Each seat has a width of 13”.
- The larger sizes work best with older children. It is unclear why the smallest one weighs the most, seeing as they are all made of rubber and polypropylene.
- Affordable cost
- Lightweight and portable
- Available in different colors and heights to fit your child’s needs
- Helps active children focus and inactive kids increase activity levels
- Designed for the classroom, but works at home
- Comfortable seating
- Price changes often
- A popular product that is frequently low in stock
- Materials lack durability
- Will need to buy a new one as your child grows
What Customers Are Saying:
Many parents have said that the Learniture improved their child’s behavior and wellbeing. We saw some complaints about the materials not being very durable, but most users have seen no issue on that front.
- Keep students comfortable with the Active Learning Stool from Learniture
- The textured, non-slip thermoplastic rubber bottom is curved to allow a wide range of movement without disrupting the class.
ErgoErgo Ergonomic Stool – Most Innovative Active Sitting Chair
The ErgoErgo stool is a unique design in the world of active sitting chairs.
When you sit on the ErgoErgo, it compresses slightly. Just enough so you’re sitting at the height of a standard office chair.
When you’re sitting, the patented ergo column moves with you and helps you find a neutral posture that’s good for the spine and works to strengthen your core.
These little bits of gentle movement on the stool will promote circulation, so you’re really getting all the benefits of active sitting with this one.
People love the fun and funky design, too.
It comes in 7 different colors, including blue, black, yellow, pink, purple and orange.
With this color range and the different size options (including standard, extra wide and a kids version for ages 4-9), this stool will work well in a range of work or learning environments.
Keep in mind that the maximum weight capacity on the standard model is 225 lbs.
Also, the standard model is designed to work for a height range of 5′ – 6’4″.
While that’s a pretty broad range, it’s not ideal for everyone. And some users have reported that these specs are somewhat exaggerated.
If this is a concern, look at the wider model (weight capacity of 250 lbs) or kids model (weight capacity of 170 lbs), depending on your needs.
Key Specs (Standard Model)
- Height is 20.5 inches (will compress when sitting)
- The weight is under 8 lbs, which makes this easy to transport and use in different settings
- Diameter of the stool is 16 inches
- Maximum weight capacity is 225 lbs
- Unique design with fun color options that’s appealing to adults and kids
- Promote gentle movement and correct posture while working
- It’s light, portable and budget-friendly compared to other alternative office chairs on the market
- The maximum weight capacity might be overstated. Some users have reported that the product collapses under too much weight.
- Like other active sitting designs, use these in moderation if you start relying on back muscles for support
- ✅ FLEXIBLE ACTIVE SEATING: Active sitting on ErgoErgo allows your body vitality and ease. With two feet flat on the ground, you can move gently through a wide range of positions. Engage your core, relieve your lower back, and enjoy greater abdominal spaciousness with deeper breathing
- ✅ IMPROVES FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION: ErgoErgo is a great option as an office desk chair, flexible classroom furniture, a gaming chair, and innovative seating for everyone from office workers to pregnant moms to seniors, artists, and computer engineers. Micro-movements send more vital blood and oxygen to the brain, keeping the mind alert, aware and awake.
Active Sitting and Alternative Office Chair Buyer’s Guide
When purchasing an active sitting chair, try to keep a few things in mind.
First, figure out its ease of assembly. Something that comes assembled or requires no equipment will let you use your chair quicker and reduce the chance of misusing it. Also, it boosts the chair’s portability if you want to take it home from the office.
Different people like varying amounts of cushioning. Maybe you like it soft or extra firm.
An inflatable ball design will allow you to adjust this yourself, but for more traditional stools or chairs, you will want to check out reviews for the seat’s plushness.
If it is a kneeling chair, ensure that the padding is sufficient to prevent bruising.
Choose the best height for your needs. Keep the elevation of your desk in mind. If it is a sitting desk, a mid-height chair may be your best bet.
Lower desks work well with kneeling chairs, and standing chairs need tall stools. If you plan on using it for both standing and sitting desks, you should look for a chair with adjustable height.
Also, consider how tall you are when looking for the perfect seat. Having your feet planted on the ground will make muscle engagement much more manageable.
Lastly, consider how much space you have. Smaller, simplistic designs often take up less space and have the added advantage of portability, like the Gaiam or Learniture. However, if you have a big area and don’t plan on moving the chair much, something like the SWINGSIT may work well.
Related: Check out some of the best rolling stools for your workshop
Here are some commonly asked questions about the best active sitting chairs.
Does Active Sitting Count as Exercise?
Active sitting is a way to increase non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT). You engage your muscles and make micro-movements throughout the day, improving muscular strength and balance while burning a few extra calories. However, sitting should not be your only form of exercise.
Since it requires minimal physical effort, you should implement a regular exercise routine to complement your active sitting.
It boosts calorie burn, but not to the point where you will lose a significant amount of weight by switching chairs.
Related: Check out some of the best exercises you can do at your standing desk
Why are Active Sitting Chairs Better than Exercise Balls?
Exercise balls are one way to introduce motion into your workplace cheaply, but they lack the necessary structural support for your sit bones, hindering good posture.
Also, exercise ball heights are not adjustable and usually aren’t tall enough for a desk. They lack a backrest, which can make sitting tiring, reducing your focus and productivity.
A balance ball integrated into a chair, like the Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair, compensates for a plain exercise ball’s shortcomings by keeping it stationary and providing a backrest.
Should I Get a Chair with Armrests?
Many active sitting chairs are more like stools, such as the Learniture Active Learning Chair and Seville Classics Airlift 360 Stool. Others, like the Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair, employ unconventional methods of sitting.
These chairs lack armrests because they stabilize your body, meaning you will use fewer muscles to stay upright.
Without armrests, you can better improve your posture and strengthen your core while also having more freedom of motion.
The SWINGSIT Active Sitting Chair has armrests to isolate your core muscles and wear you out less. Since the motion is automated, you do not have to focus as much energy on engaging your muscles because the chair does it for you.
The armrests and headrest may help you focus on your work better and facilitate a smoother transition to an active sitting chair.
How Can I Get Used to an Active Sitting Chair?
At first, active sitting chairs may tire you out. Many are like forms of low-intensity exercise equipment, and most people will not be able to jump right into using them all day.
Try to transition into full-time usage by switching between an active and traditional chair throughout the day, gradually increasing your time on the former.
Once you have adjusted to an active sitting chair, you won’t want to turn back. It will help your back pain, improve your muscle tone, and get you on your way to looking and feeling your best without a drastic change in your lifestyle.
Overall, our favorite chair is the Seville Classics Airlift 360 Stool because of how affordable, comfortable, durable, and adjustable it is. It is lightweight, stable, and lets you fidget around. You can also bring it between the home and the office.
We also like the Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair since it is cheap, portable, colorful, and medically approved. While not the most durable, you get a great return on investment.
Our third favorite is the Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair because of its simple design, years on the market, excellent construction, and lack of a height limit. This chair is on the pricier side, but it will revolutionize the way you work.