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How To Choose a Sit-Stand Chair

Not long ago, the standing desk and sit-stand chair were an odd sight in a regular office environment. Today, they’re hard to miss.

Sitting for extended periods of time has eclipsed smoking as a public health crisis of the moment. In an LA Times interview with Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic – ASU Obesity Solutions Initiative, Levine announced that chairs are killing us, and sitting all day is to blame for all kinds of ailments, including obesity.

The easy answer is to move more, but our computer-centric workplaces make that difficult. The average office worker spends five hours and 41 minutes sitting each day. Buying an ergonomic chair is not enough. We simply must incorporate more movement into the normal work day, and the easiest way to do that is with a standing desk.

Standing desks offer several health benefits, including lowering the risk of obesity, Type II diabetes, metabolic problems, cardiovascular disease and cancer. So we can all toss the office chair, right? Not necessarily.

Many people who try to make the switch from sitting all day to a standing desk find that their feet ache after standing for a long time. Standing for long stretches can also lead to hyperextending your knee, sore back muscles, and varicose veins.

As such, the answer is not changing from sitting all day to standing all day, but allowing for the option to sit or stand at work. Sitting itself isn’t bad. It’s sitting for long periods of time without movement that’s the killer.

The solution is to pair standing desks with sit-stand chairs. A sit-to-stand chair keeps your legs fresh, allowing you to sit or stand, resting periodically and allowing you to stand for longer durations. There are several options available, so the next step is figuring out how to choose a sit-stand chair.

What to look for in a sit-stand chair

There are three characteristics that we recommend you look for in a sit-stand chair:

Is it lightweight?

A lightweight chair is easy to lift, allowing you to swap out your standard chair for a sit-stand chair and back again while you are getting used to using a sit-stand workstation. Lightweight doesn’t necessarily mean flimsy. If you’re in this for the long haul, durability is key.

Is it adjustable?

A height-adjustable chair is versatile, allowing you to use it as a chair or as a standing aid to lean back on, and pairs well with an adjustable-height desk.

The average task chair is height adjustable. But the height-adjustment capabilities of sit-stand chairs are unique, since they need to be able to adjust from standard desk height up to bar height. Not all chairs are capable of such a wide range. It requires a unique type of cylinder and extra support.

The chair should be adjustable in other ways, too. You should be able to position it so that your lower back is supported in an ergonomically sound S-shape, extend or tilt the headrest, and lift or lower the arms. Some higher-end chairs even have adjustable seat pans, allowing you to control how far out the seat extends underneath your legs, since leg and torso length vary widely from person to person, regardless of height.

Is it comfortable?

A comfortable chair is a must, whether you’re sitting or leaning. Incorporating more activity into your day shouldn’t mean sacrificing comfort. The best sit-stand chairs encourage a hip-to-torso angle between 130 and 135 degrees, as this posture puts the least amount of stress on your spine and its connecting muscles.

There are a surprising number of options available that meet all three needs in a sit-stand chair, including stools, chairs that more closely resemble standard office chairs, and more.

Alternatives to sit-stand chairs

Stools

Stools tend to encourage movement and provide the most versatility among standing desk seating options. The good ones pair a strong, supportive base with a stylish and practical design.

Leaning seat or standing-assist stools allow you to rest while remaining almost as high as standing and can relieve fatigue while using a stand desk. A pivot post allows for some movement, but they work best for fixed activities, not movement around a work area.

If your work involves a lot of two-handed, forward-reach work, a saddle stool may be your best option. Although the wide-stance and saddle pressure take some getting used to, they are actually very comfortable.

With a cushion reminiscent of a five-speed, a bicycle seat is a smaller version of the saddle stool and usually comes at a lower cost. The smaller seat is less comfortable for long periods of sitting, but they’re perfect for leaning at a sit-stand workstation.

A perch stool is generally low-cost yet sturdy. They’re not ideal for prolonged periods of sitting, and you can’t perch as high since the angled seat pan has a tendency to cause you to slip forward, but they are great for leaning while using a sit stand desk

Other seating options

If you’d rather have a chair than a stool, tractor and waterfall seats are very comfortable, although the forward reach range is not great.

A few alternatives to a stool or chair are the muvman Active-Sit-Stand and the swopper AIR. These unique seating alternatives provide what other stools and chairs can’t: hip rotation. Their unique designs allows you to work your core and get a full range of motion while cushioning pressure points. They even offer the added benefit of helping to strengthen your upper body during use.

Benefits beyond ergonomics

Pairing your sit-stand desk with a sit-stand chair offers several benefits. In the absence of a chair, many workers often end up leaning on their work surface to relieve pressure. A sit-stand chair is designed to promote a healthful posture and encourages you to adopt and maintain an ergonomic working position.

The seat takes pressure off your legs, allowing you to stand for longer periods of time. Rather than sinking into a chair and remaining there all day, sit-stand chairs encourage movement around the workspace and between coworkers. Plus, with a wide range of modern styles and finishes, you can find a sit-stand chair to complement any contemporary office furniture style.

In an age when company health initiatives are so popular, providing the tools to encourage employees to move more shows an investment in employee health. Your employees aren’t just cogs in a machine; they are people, and you want them to be at their best. Giving them the tools to be productive and healthy is a win-win.

Find the best sit-stand chair for you

If you’re looking for the right sit-stand seating to go with your standing desk, Connecting Elements can help you find what you need. Dial 877.779.3409 or send us an email.

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