If you had lived 100 years ago, you would get five times more exercise than you do today. You wouldn't have had to join a gym either — all of that physical activity was simply built into your daily routine.
But that was then, and this is now. Most of us sit at least eight hours a day between work, school, and leisure time. To make matters worse, only 23% of Americans get the CDC-recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week.
So then, what's the solution?
An ergonomic stool may not magically solve all your problems, but it can have a positive effect on your physical health and your productivity.
What should you know about ergonomic stools? Why is a wobble chair one of the best upgrades you can make to your office setup? Most importantly, how can you choose the best desk stool for your needs?
We'll answer these questions and much more, so keep reading below.
What Is a Wobble Chair?
You've seen standing desks and keyboard trays, but what on earth is a wobble chair?
Although it sounds like something a circus performer might use, it's quickly becoming one of the most popular options for ergonomic seating. Also called a wobble stool, it does exactly what its name suggests.
Wobble stools use a weighted, self-stabilizing base to allow you to move while you sit. You can rock back and forth, twist side to side, or tilt forward on the stool. For anyone with ADHD who struggles to sit still, a wobble chair can be a gamechanger!
The seat is firm enough to provide the support your body needs, yet it's comfortable enough to use every day. There's also no back to the stool, which forces you to use your core muscles to sit upright.
Regardless of the design, you'll sit on your wobble chair by perching on top of it, near the center of the stool. As you move back and forth, side to side, or in a circular motion, it will engage your core muscles, back muscles, and even your hips and legs.
Meanwhile, sitting upright as you rebalance and move will help you to maintain an optimal posture. You'll find that the pain and stiffness that develop when you sit too long are also alleviated.
Why Would I Want a Wobble Stool?
There are countless work-from-home stools to choose from, so why should you consider a wobble chair? Consider three compelling reasons.
Like other types of ergonomic setups, a wobble stool can enhance your productivity while you work or study.
Researchers have noted a 17.5% productivity increase for people who work in an ergonomically optimized setting. A wobble chair moves enough to keep you alert, but it's stable enough to allow you to focus.
More Movement (For Less Effort)
Do you struggle to find the time or motivation to exercise? A wobble chair isn't exactly the same as joining a gym, but it can add a lot more movement to your daily routine.
One 2014 study found that the constant tilting and rocking on a wobble chair is equivalent to "light physical activity" or exercise. It engages your core muscles and helps to strengthen your back, abdominals, and legs.
Decreased Chance of Injury
It's no secret that sitting all day can wreak havoc on your body. Back pain, neck pain, headaches, and repetitive strain injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome) are all too common in office workers.
You may not be able to reduce the number of hours you work, but you can reduce your chance of injury from sitting too much. Ergonomic stools improve your posture and contribute to a healthier work setup, resulting in less pain and stiffness for you.
How to Choose the Best Ergonomic Stool
With this overview in mind, let's dive into the fine print. Here are 10 things to consider as you search for the perfect ergonomic stool for your needs.
1. Your Work Environment
Do you sit at a desk all day? Have you made the switch to a standing desk? Or do you sometimes switch between the two?
The great thing about ergonomic stools is they can adapt to your office environment.
Look for a stool with an adjustable height so you can use it with a traditional desk or a standing desk. In fact, wobble chairs are ideal for "standers" who want to rest for short periods without adjusting their desk height.
You might also consider wobble stools for other professions and settings, such as:
- Bar stools
- Office stools
- Warehouse stools
- Children's classrooms
In short, there are very few settings where an ergonomic stool wouldn't work. Active sitting makes it easier to focus no matter what kind of task you have in front of you.
2. Your Overall Health
Active or dynamic sitting helps to promote the natural movements of your body. It can also help to improve spinal positioning, coordination, and muscle stimulation.
With that said, there's no single seating solution that's right for everyone.
If you have serious back or joint issues, such as rheumatoid arthritis or a herniated disc, speak with your doctor before you try a new office setup. You'll want to make sure that a moveable desk stool wouldn't inadvertently make your condition worse.
Also, make sure that your current weight falls within the specs for the model you're considering. A solid ergonomic stool should support a worker up to 250 pounds, but always double-check that the model is suitable for your weight as well as your height.
3. Available Space
Whether you travel to the office or you're revamping your work-from-home setup, consider how much space you can dedicate to your seating.
Traditional office chairs tend to be wide, heavy, and bulky. Ergonomically-friendly ones may have a reclining feature that requires even more space to lean back and stretch out.
These options are terrific — if you have the space for them.
You can enjoy the same ergonomic benefits from a stool, but it will take up a fraction of the space. This can be a lifesaver if you're working in a small room or a crowded cubicle. It's even small enough to set aside if you want to switch between a stool and a chair.
4. The Type of Base
Most wobble stools you'll see have a slightly rounded, weighted base. This gives the stool its namesake rocking motion and allows you to shift your weight in any direction you like.
However, this is not the only option! If you'd like a little more mobility around your office, consider a rollable wobble chair.
This stool combines the best of both worlds — wheels that allow you to move around the room and a moveable seat to encourage active sitting. If you work in a more dynamic setting (i.e., a medical office or an artist's studio), this could be the ideal type of seating for your needs.
5. Your Desired Height Range
Traditional office chairs usually vary anywhere from 16 to 21 inches in height. Of course, there are options for workers who are much taller (or shorter) than "average."
Another great feature of ergonomic stools is they literally are "one size fits all." With a functional, adjustable height range from 23 to 33 inches, you can adjust your stool to any setting.
If you have a standard desk, settle onto your stool and tuck your legs under you to rock while you work. If you use a standing desk, raise your stool so you have something comfortable to "lean" on.
The ability to be not-quite-standing and yet not-quite-sitting not only engages your body, but it keeps your mind more alert too.
6. Type of Seat
The two most popular types of seats for ergonomic stools are rounded seats and triangular seats. There's no right or wrong answer for which is best — it simply depends on which feels most comfortable for you.
Regardless of the style you choose, you'll want to make sure the seat is padded enough to support your low back and hips. This is especially important if you plan to use your desk stool for more than just short periods to rest your feet.
Look for seat fabrics that minimize sweating and encourage air circulation. Vinyl coverings are usually easier to clean, while cloth coverings tend to be more breathable.
Also, make sure the seat is an appropriate width for your size and body shape. A seat diameter of about 13" is standard and a good starting point for your search.
7. Ease of Movement
The whole reason you're interested in buying an ergonomic stool is to move more during the day. Just because something is labeled "ergonomic," however, doesn't mean it provides the mobility you want.
Be sure to read the fine print and browse the user manuals to understand how much movement you'll get from your stool. Also, read customer reviews and testimonials to see if their experience aligns with what you're looking for.
For example, does the stool swivel a full 360 degrees? How far forward or back can you safely lean? Is it possible to lean over and pick something up from a low shelf or the floor?
Ideally, your desk stool should allow you to easily swivel to many different positions at your workstation without the need to stand or change positions.
No chair lasts forever, but you do want to feel like you're making a solid investment in your workspace.
Look for work-from-home stools that are made of strong, durable materials. Steel is always a good option, as it's sturdy, easy to clean, and won't mar your flooring.
The more you use your wobble chair, the more you'll fall in love with it. In fact, many people eliminate their traditional office chairs altogether.
If the same is true of you, you'll be glad you chose a stool that can hold up to extensive use without breaking.
The old adage "You get what you pay for" is just as true for office furniture as anything else.
While you don't want to pay an exorbitant price, beware of a very low price that seems too good to be true. This could signal inferior products, inferior craftsmanship, or both — which is simply not worth the risk.
Ideally, your ergonomic stool will fall somewhere in the middle. The price should prove that the manufacturer used quality materials, but you should still feel like you're getting good value for your money.
10. Your Long-Term Health Goals
If you start to feel overwhelmed as you consider ergonomic seating options, always remember why you're making the switch.
A stool or chair that supports active sitting can:
- Loosen the muscles in your neck, back, and spine
- Improve your posture and restore your spine's natural curvature
- Improve your breathing and digestion
- Activate the core muscles in your abdomen and back
- Reduce neck pain and lowers back pain
- Improve circulation and blood flow
- Improve concentration and mental function
- Improve focus and sensory awareness
- Boost your energy levels throughout the workday
It's hard to believe that you can enjoy all these benefits from changing your seat, but it's true. The right ergonomic stool can make you a better worker now while setting you up for improved health in the future.
Choose the Perfect Ergonomic Stool for You
As we've discussed, an ergonomic stool can do wonders for your physical and mental health. It's also guaranteed to make you more productive while you work or study.
Are you ready to experience the amazing benefits of a wobble chair for yourself? Our line of ergonomic stools and chairs tick all the boxes above.
Click here to browse our complete list of active chairs, including our always-popular wobble stool. Your body will thank you for it!