In previous articles my colleagues have written extensively about active sitting and the importance of keeping your core engaged while sitting.
I won’t get into too much detail now about what it is, but just know that’s a great antidote for those sitting for long hours.
The Core Chair is a popular example of sitting active seating chair.
Just like other ergonomic stools on the market, the Core Chair claims to have a chair that will keep you healthy while sitting.
So how realistic are these claims? And it is the best option on the market?
In this review I’ll give you my honest opinion and also mention some other very worthy options available.
About The Company
The story of CoreChair is one of success and hard labor.
It took the founder and CEO of CoreChair, Patrick Harrison and his Kinesiology team a whopping 7 years of research and testing to develop this product.
Its health benefits have been extensively tested, and they have managed to earn a prestigious NEAT certification.
This certification has been awarded to the CoreChair and only one other active chair on the market. The company was founded in 2008 and revolves around a single product – The CoreChair.
The Core Chair
The CoreChair comes with a NEAT certificate that is issued by the Mayo Clinic. The certificate states that the CoreChair is proven to improve digestion, breathing, and blood flow.
It also strengthens your abdomen and keeps your joints healthy.
These are not just marketing promos but facts that have been tested in separate studies by the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Waterloo as well as the Arizona State University.
So what is so special about this chair you ask? Read on to find out.
- Standard seat size measures 17.1’’ to 19.2’’ off the floor
- Tall seat size measures 18.7’’ to 22.3’’ off the floor
- Seat width is 19.3’’
- Seat depth adjusts from 16.7’’ to 18.3’’
- Tilts 14 degrees in all directions
- The pivot point is located under the seat
- Woven fabric cover
- 12-year Warranty
- NEAT certified (Mayo Clinic approved on its fitness aspect)
Pros and cons
- Engages your core muscles while you sit
- Boosts energy spending by 17%
- Allows stretching by a 14-degree angle in every direction
- Promotes healthy blood flow
- Good for the environment
- Minimalistic design that will fit any workspace
- High price range
- Takes time to get used to the tiny backrest
- Seat depth adjustments can get noisy
- Tilting tension lever requires strength
- Can’t be used for long hours
The CoreChair comes with a minimalistic design that should fit right into your workspace.
Its small footprint helps you save space, and it also takes care of the environment since the entire chair was made from recycled materials.
The chair’s design was inspired by reports of some office workers using exercise balls to keep them active while they work.
The problem with regular exercise balls is not having the option to remain steady. Some solve this by keeping a regular chair next to their exercise ball, but why not have both in a single product?
1. Tilts in every direction
Just like the exercise ball, the CoreChair tilts in all directions while you are seated. So you’ll just need to balance yourself with your abdomen, and leg muscles.
This is awesome for stretching and will surely keep you active while you work.
Once you’re tired of active sitting and need a regular chair you simply tighten the tension by pushing a lever backward. As soon as you do, you’ll get a regular office seat without tilting.
The tension lever might need some force in order to move, so keep that in mind.
2. Short back support a.k.a ‘Pelvic stabilizer’
Unlike regular office chairs, the CoreChair comes with very tiny backrest support or as they call it a ‘Pelvic stabilizer.’ It is depth adjustable and will support people of various body types.
People of larger frames might move it backward and slimmer people will want to move it forward. In both cases, it provides amazing lower back support in any position you find yourself.
This is the part that takes time to get used to though because at a certain point you’ll want to lean all the way in like you do on a regular chair.
Other Active Seating
Ergonomic chairs are designed to offer complete support and keep you in the proper posture while you work.
People that spend long hours at the desk appreciate this type of chair the most because it helps minimize the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
In the line of ergonomic chairs, you will also find chairs for active sitting. They usually require you to balance yourself with your core muscles and keep you active while you work.
If you’re looking for a way to stay active while you work we strongly suggest looking into the Swingsit chair, a Kickstarter project that has won people’s hearts.
With regards to how it works, Swingsit reminded us of a fidget spinner. The arms stay stationary while the entire chair rocks side to side.
The makers of the chair informed us that 25 minutes of swinging equals 1 mile of walking, which is pretty nice if you’re stuck at your desk for long hours.
Other than the swing function, this chair was designed with ergonomics in mind. The backrest is curved to follow the shape of your spine and to hug your back when you lean into it.
Both the backrest and the headrest are upholstered with mesh to keep you cool while you work.
The seat is contoured and padded with memory foam and contours to your behind, giving you a nice comfy feeling.
The only downside we could find with this chair is the high price, which most people refer to as ‘smart investment into your health’.
Ergonomic stools were made to keep you active while you work. They are not as comfortable to sit in as regular chairs, but they will keep you working longer with less side effects.
If your energy levels are suffering at work, we suggest looking into the Swopper stool. It comes with a cushioned seat that is firmest in the center.
This stool was designed to move horizontally, vertically, and laterally to keep you active throughout the day. You can bounce, swivel, or shift your weight back and forth or side to side.
The Swooper allows for amazing hip rotations and stretching. You can adjust the height of the seat which changes the angle of your hips, and you can also control the level of bounce.
The seat is definitely on the firm side but some people solve this by getting a seat cushion. Also, in the beginning, you won’t be able to use this the entire workday.
You will need to give yourself an adjustment period of about a week to get your core stronger. So have another chair handy in the first week or so, you’ll need it.
After the first few weeks, you’ll start feeling the real benefits of the Swopper. Other than that, this is a solid stool that is silent and will hold up to 290 lbs of weight.
The Learniture active stool can be used both for a regular and a standing desk. The height adjustment range is pretty large, allowing you to go from 18.5’’ to 28’’ off the floor.
The seat is ergonomic and a bit more cushioned than the Swooper stool. The Learniture stool was designed with a curved base that keeps the chair rocking side to side.
The only thing that can keep this stool upright is you, so you’ll need to balance your weight while working. This type of body shift is amazing for sitting-related issues like back pain and sciatica.
The seat is 12.6’’ wide and was designed specifically to keep you active and out of your comfort zone. It will support up to 265 lbs of weight.
I simply had to add the Capisco saddle stool to this list because it is an incredible product. I know I risk sounding biased here, but honestly, this one is my favorite, and here’s why:
The Capisco chair was designed to offer a variety of seating positions and each one is very comfortable. You can turn it around and sit backward, or even sit sideways and it still works.
Both the seat and the backrest are cushioned, and they are significantly comfier for sitting than other ergonomic stools like the Swopper.
The seat height is taller than usual and can be adjusted from 22.5’’ to 33’’, making it a perfect match for a standing desk. You can also adjust the seat depth by 3’’.
This stool protects the environment since it is made from 50% recycled materials and is 90% recyclable itself.
The only thing to get used to here is the saddle style of the seat which might be weird at first, but once you get into it you’ll understand why people love it so much.
The only thing we’d like to see is a more budget-friendly version of this stool, but for the benefit it provides, it is totally worth it.
While most of the world is already well acquainted with active sitting chairs, there are still quite a lot of people that haven’t heard of kneeling chairs.
They are definitely in a different category of sitting. Instead of leaning back on a backrest, you get to lean in the front, with your knees.
This type of sitting option eliminates many pressure points that hurt your body.
If we’re speaking of kneeling chairs we have to pay our respects to the original one that started it all, the Varier Variable Balance.
This model was designed by Peter Opsvik, the Norwegian hero that literally saved our behinds back in 1979. The chair is manufactured in Europe, but it sells worldwide with great success.
There are similar kinds of kneeling chairs, but none of them reach the same level of flexibility or strength. Not without adding a cross-bar.
The good and bad
On the positive side, the angle of the seat on this model places you in a forward stance which straightens your spine and gives you an open hip, much needed to keep your body aligned.
You can rock back and forth while you work or balance yourself to engage your core muscles.
But on the negative side, the Varier doesn’t adjust in any way and might be a bit short for people over 6’2’’.
The other thing is the lack of armrests might inspire you to slouch while using the chair, but try to resist that urge.
Aside from those 2 things; people that bought the Variable Balans are extremely happy with their purchase. They especially like the rocking motion and the improved posture they get.
Balance Ball Chair
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that Balance balls are inferior to the CoreChair because you don’t have a stationary option when you want to rest from active sitting.
Well, the Gaiam balance ball chair doesn’t have that issue because the ball is placed inside a chair-looking frame that also comes with a backrest.
To use this chair you’ll need to inflate the ball and place it inside the plastic frame. It is a budget-friendly option for people that need to actively sit but don’t have a high budget.
The Gaiam comes with some restrictions though, you’ll need to be between 5” to 5.11’’ tall to be able to use it, but they do sell separate leg extenders.
How to stretch the ball
Also, you might need to put some effort into getting the ball stretched outright.
This is done by inflating the ball once, letting it stand for a day (24h), deflating to 50%, and then re-inflating it again. Once you’ve achieved this, you’ll be ready to use your new Gaiam ball chair.
The secret to successfully using this chair is trying different amounts of air. Usually, less is better.