Is your desk chair helping or hurting you?

While your plushy office chair may feel good, it could be killing you softly. We decided to look at the best ergonomic desk chairs and the case for some healthy alternatives.

Is your desk chair helping or hurting you?
  • Health isn’t all about your immune system. Back problems can also be a real pain to deal with. However, some products aren’t as effective as you may have been lead to believe.
  • Likewise, poor posture can lead to a variety of health problems, including fatigue, back pain and headaches.
  • Standing desks can help you lose weight. Yet, experts recommend alternating between standing and sitting.
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Hurting or helping?

There are no official statistics for the number of people who work behind a desk. However, estimates suggest that US employees spend at least 39 percent of every day sitting. For people in certain professions, such as software development and accounting, the figure is closer to 80 percent. When so much of your day is spent sitting, your choice of desk chair becomes very important.

Of course, chairs come in numerous shapes, sizes and prices. Some people don’t own a chair at all, preferring to work at a standing desk. But which is the best choice for you? Here’s a look at the options.

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Sitting: the office culture

Standing for health

When it comes to health, much is made of our prehistoric roots. As cave-dwelling hunter gatherers, early humans lived a lifestyle vastly removed from our modern world. In some cases, the effect of these changes has been overhyped. For instance, we can do perfectly well without eating raw food or walking about in bare feet.

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Time to stand

But the science suggests that our sedentary working life is one change for the worse. Many studies indicate that you are at much greater risk of disease and dying young if you work a desk job.

Standing desks have become wildly popular in recent years for this very reason. In general terms, it’s true to say that being upright is healthier than reclining. However, standing in one spot all day is just as unnatural as sitting on your backside for hours on end. Experts actually recommend that you take a seat whenever your legs get tired.

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Standing desks can help

This is where the likes of EvoDesk and Attollo come in. These adjustable workstations allow you to switch between standing and sitting in seconds.

EvoDesk is a full-height option, while Attollo sits on top of your regular sitting-height desk. Both are equipped with electric motors that can lift or lower your computer and monitors safely.

Finding the right desk chair

Standing is fine for some, but not everyone feels comfortable working on their feet.

This isn’t actually a problem. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with sitting down. The troubles arise from poor posture and a lack of movement.

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Sitting isn’t good for you health

Posture is something that is often overlooked. While you’re working, you probably aren’t thinking about the curvature of your back or the angle of your neck. Yet these small physical distortions can be the cause of persistent pain.

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BackStrong can improve your posture

Desk chairs can help enormously with posture. The key is finding a chair that offers the right kind of support. While the cheapest options are completely lacking in this area, there are plenty of affordable ways to improve your posture.

For instance, the BackStrong ergonomic chair uses patented technology to correct your posture throughout the day. Meanwhile, workers on a budget can try something like the BetterBack support belt.

Some chairs in the over $300 category are a little more refined, and the Altwork Station (see above) lets you work at any angle. However, it’s certainly not necessary to break the bank in search of better posture.

Movement matters

In terms of staying healthy at work, movement is just as important as your sitting position.

Many of the problems associated with sitting can be attributed to a resting heart rate and low blood pressure. When you stand up, the blood starts pumping faster. Movement increases this effect, while also allowing your joints to move and your muscles to stretch.

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Get those legs moving

Consequently, the real secret to improving your well-being at work is to get moving. You could do this by simply going for a walk during your lunch break. Alternatively, you can work at a treadmill or add an exercise machine under your desk. Some chairs are even designed with movement in mind.

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This chair makes you active

Better working life

It turns out that, like everything in life, sitting is okay in moderation. Desk chairs can lessen the impact of your sedentary work life, and movement can drastically improve your health over time. We’re certainly going to take our own advice and get more active – how about you?

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Mark is best known for writing about apps, but he also loves the tactile, hardware side of technology. Being a professional photographer, he's pretty handy with a camera, and he's a self-confessed tweetaholic.
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