It is common knowledge that sitting for a prolonged time can do more harm than good to your body. Even if you are a dedicated fitness aficionado who makes it a habit to exercise daily, extended periods of sitting can wear down your body.
This is where the concept of active sitting comes in. Active sitting, trending across the world, allows your body to be dynamic even when seated.
Also, known as dynamic sitting, it can help you move specific muscle groups while seated and prevent long-term damage to the body.
Active sitting involves the use of ergonomic chairs or stools that allow you to engage some of your muscles, such as that of the legs and the back even as you sit.
This post was contributed by Preetam Kaushik
Active Sitting Vs Standing
Active sitting has also been often termed “the new standing”. However, the similarities end there.
You are likely to want to stretch a bit after a long bout of sitting and that is sure to feel good.
But standing for a longer period, can also prove counterproductive. Some issues you might face with attaining optimal productivity while standing might include:
- Difficulty using a laptop or a keyboard
- Inability to multitask, especially if it involves the use of a computer
- Painful knees and joints due to standing for an extended period
- Back problems similar to the ones you encounter after sitting for a long time
- Tasks requiring fine motor skills are best done while seated
On the other hand, active sitting is more in keeping with your natural movements. Maintaining a fine balance between active sitting and standing might be the way to go here.
Active Sitting Benefits
A study conducted in Sweden concluded that active sitting involving the use of a chair intended for the purpose, equaled doing light physical activity.
Participants were monitored while they worked using a conventional office chair and also when seated on a specially designed chair intended to encourage active sitting.
The study looked at micro movements, the concentration of workers, and motor skills before arriving at an assessment.
While this particular study was confined to one particular type of chair, there are some acknowledged benefits of active sitting.
- Better posture: Active sitting can straighten the back in the thoracic region. Sitting with your spine straight will improve your posture. It can also offer relief from back pain that is often the result of sitting in a sedentary manner for long hours.
- Strengthening your core: With active sitting, you can keep your core stable and safeguard your spine from overload and stress.
- Enhancing blood flow: Using an active seat keeps you mobile, even if it’s restricted to small movements. These movements cause your muscles to contract regularly and pumps blood through your body. It can open up your lungs and also boost the flow of oxygen to the brain resulting in the dual benefit of boosting energy levels alongside mental stimulation.
- Soothing tense muscles: Being active while sitting can help prevent muscle stiffness and tension. Sitting in the same position can lead to discomfort in the lower back and around the neck. Small movements that are consistent with active sitting, can eliminate this possibility.
- Burning a few calories: Anytime you move, you use up some calories. While the calories burned in active sitting are way too less than what you would lose exercising, it is definitely an improvement on sedentary sitting.
- Enabling pelvic movement: When you practice active seating, it leads to constant movement of your pelvis. A constantly moving pelvis keeps the intervertebral discs flexible and in good shape. Lack of movement due to sedentary sitting can cause the discs to bend and eventually result in disk herniation.
- Helps focus: The frequent micromovements and adjustments keep you on your toes, literally! It helps your brain stay alert and lets you focus on the task at hand.
Does Active Sitting Really Work?
Every new trend or concept has to wait for its time in the spotlight and active sitting is no exception to this. The jury is out on whether active sitting actually works.
At the same time, there are studies that indicate active sitting has no adverse effect on productivity of individuals.
Active seating has been found to encourage natural shifts in your body just as you would do when walking or standing. There are some ways in which you can make active sitting really work for you.
These include choosing the right active sitting chair, engaging in active sitting exercises, and listening to your body.
1. Choose right
Fitness balls and balance discs top the list of active sitting options. But starting out with a stable active sitting chair might be a good start. There is no dearth of chairs for active sitting in the market today.
When shopping for the best chair for your needs, look for features such as adjustable height, ease of assembling, and seating comfort. The chair you pick should prevent you from slouching and let you keep your legs and torso at an open angle.
One example is the stylish, yet functional Soutien Office Chair that makes it easy to switch to active sitting.
It comes with 3D lumbar support system with three different height adjustment levels. The sleek design with a curved backrest offering stable support for the neck and spine is perfectly complemented by plush Italian-imported chenille.
Premium fleece mesh along with temperature-sensitive K+R fiber keep you comfortable in all seasons. The tilting backrest, flexible 4D armrests and adjustable seat depth enable active sitting whenever you need it.
The flexibility offered by the Soutien Office Chair make it a favorite with people from diverse backgrounds such as gamers, students, and of course, office workers. Once you have made your choice, ease into active sitting mode gradually. As with any kind of transition, this one too needs to be at a slow pace. Make the switch from your current chair to the new one day at a time. Start by using your new chair for a couple of hours and slowly increase the time you use your active chair.
2. Warm up
Just as you need to warm up when starting a fitness regimen, you need to ease into active sitting gradually. Support your transition with a few simple exercises and active sitting postures.
- Continue to sit while you move your hips, legs, and abdomen every now and then
- Try lifting one foot off the ground ever so slightly and bring your knees up to the chest
- Make small changes to your sitting position at frequent intervals
- Throw in a couple of easy stretches to keep those muscles and joints really supple
- Take short breaks and walk around a bit every hour or so
3. Stay Atuned
Being in tune with the needs of your body is the secret to good health. This is true of all kinds of exercise as well as active sitting.
Focus on what your body is trying to say while you practice active sitting. Change your posture as frequently as necessary till it feels right. After a few minutes, repeat!
Your body will signal to you when your legs need to be stretched or your back could use a change in the seating angle. Identifying these signs and taking remedial action immediately can help you make the most of active sitting.
While active sitting has its share of benefits, it is important to remember that it is not a substitute for exercise and other physical activity.
In order to derive the maximum benefits of active sitting, it is essential to supplement it with your regular fitness routine. Also, the transition to active seating is best done gradually. Once you transition to active sitting, it’s highly unlikely you will ever want to return to just sitting!