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Office Chairs: Sitting vs. Standing vs. ‘The Ball’

Anyone who has ever worked in an office knows the consequences of sitting for hours on end, but it is only the brave few who have tried to break the mold with a standing desk or … [ominous drum roll] … “The Ball.” If you’ve been following the health news, there’s been a bit of controversy swirling about how sitting for hours at your computer <a title="CBS News" href="http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/01/20/sitting-at-work-for-hours-can-be-as-unhealthy-as-smoking/" target="_blank">is as unhealthy as smoking</a>. That’s a dramatic statement and if it has any merit it would mean that all of us need to stand up – right now! <strong>But, is sitting for hours really killing me?</strong> Nope. This is little more than media hype in an attempt to feed the mouse-click monster, but it can be a <em>contributing factor</em> to all kinds of nasty things like heart disease, diabetes and the like. This, of course, has less to do with sitting and everything to do with indulging in a sedentary lifestyle. Your body is built for movement and when you remain immobile for long stretches at a time (X hours of sitting at work + X hours of couch time + X hours of sleep) things just naturally start to degrade. So, it’s not so much that sitting is bad; it’s that more movement is better. <strong>Is sitting on “The Ball” better than sitting on a chair?</strong> Nope, but let us qualify that. Dr. Jack Callaghan, chair of the Canada Research Chair in Spine Biomechanics and Injury Prevention at the University of Waterloo, <a title="New York Times" href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/12/ask-well-ball-chairs/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0" target="_blank">has conducted studies</a> that show the ball (aka <a title="Exercise Balls" href="http://www.atgstores.com/stability-balls_2889.html" target="_blank">stability ball</a>) is no better or worse than a chair because <em>people eventually wind up slouching on the ball the same way they do on a chair</em>. Translation: Improving sitting posture to relieve back pain has a lot to do with refining habits. If the ball helps you do that by encouraging at-work exercise - or by forcing you to get up more often because you hate sitting on it - then we can say it's working. [caption id="attachment_20209" align="aligncenter" width="180"]<a title="Stability Ball Chair" href="http://www.atgstores.com/stability-balls/j-fit-10-0200-exercise-balance-stability-ball-chair_6188283.html&amp;linkloc=cataLogProductItemsImage" rel="attachment wp-att-20209" target="_blank"><img class=" wp-image-20209 " title="Stability Ball Chair" src="http://ourblog.atgstores.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ballchair-300x300.jpg" alt="Exercise Ball Chairs" width="180" height="180" /></a> The jury is still out, however, on the benefits of the "Ballair."[/caption] <strong>So, <em>standing</em> at my desk has to be better, right?</strong> Nope. Are you noticing a trend? If so, it is this: Doing <em>anything</em> for eight hours at a stretch is a bad idea unless you’re asleep. Dr. Callaghan acknowledges this in his final assessment and advises breaking up activities into smaller increments. How small will always be a matter of debate, so long as they’re shorter than a full third of your day. <a title="ATG Home Page" href="http://www.atgstores.com/" target="_blank">ATGStores.com</a> invites you to stay loose and switch it up when things start feeling a little stiff.
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