What is an Active Chair?

What is an Active Chair?

Key Features and Buying Guide for Active Sitting Stools

Active vs Traditional Office Chairs: What is an active chair?

Traditional office chairs are designed to allow you to sit stationary for extended periods. Some office chairs, especially ergonomic office chairs, are packed with a variety of adjustments to help fit the chair to your specific physique to maintain proper posture and enhance stationary sitting comfort.

Active Chairs tend to be on the opposite end of the sitting spectrum. In general, active stools are smaller with fewer adjustments—and bells and whistles. They are designed for shorter sitting durations and complement the modern move towards and active office environment in which workers sit for a period, stand up and work, pace on a phone call, and take walking meetings.

Key Feature of Active Chair: Instability

The main unique feature of an active chair is some form of instability. Compared to a traditional office chair that is stable and lets you plop down and sit for hours, active chairs have some level on instability (generally in the seat or base) that force core engagement and give you the freedom to move more while sitting.

Why Should You Use An Unstable Active Chair?

Modern research has revealed that people (especially office workers) sit in a static, stationary position for too long. These extended periods of static sitting have been linked to a host of health detriments, which has in turn fueled the active office movement. Active chairs are an important piece of furniture that complements this movement. Sometimes you need to have a seat, and active chairs put the choice in your hands—choose a traditional chair and sit stationary—or select an active stool and engage in more movement while sitting.

How Does an Active Chair Help Your Move More While Sitting?

Instability in the seat or base of an active stool gives you the freedom to rock, tip, twist, and move while sitting. The best active stools are safe to use and let you comfortably sit still and then quickly initiate movement when you want. Active balance stools not only give you the freedom to move but they also engage and strengthen your core while sitting. Both of these attributes can contribute to overall health and wellbeing. Check out these common desk-life scenarios illustrating how an active chair can nicely and perhaps surreptitiously complement your office life:

  • Dropped your phone or pen on the floor? No problem—twist and lean the active stool to grab it.
  • Boss walked into your space to ask why your TPS report isn’t finished ? Swivel around and look bossman in the eye while you gently balance and kick your muscles into micro-movements to fidget away that built-up energy without the incessant, distracting foot tapping.
  • Listening to that annual report conference call ? Get your head out of your hands, fight the boredom, and stay engaged in the call as you gently rock, move, swivel and balance the meeting away—all thanks to your active chair.
  • Prepping for that big presentation?  Prepare it on your active stool so you can sit, swivel, rock, move, and burn off nervous energy without developing incessant shaken leg syndrome (not a true medical term).
  • Sit through another meeting: Sit actively at your next meeting or conference to fight drowsiness, stay engaged, focus better, and obtain better material retention.

Important Features to Look For In an Active Stool:

  • Safely Rock Side-to-Side: Whether it’s an unstable cushion or an entire chair, the ability to tip side to side on an active stool opens up a range of movement possibilities
  • Swivel: Active stools with a swiveling seat are a must. Rotational movement strengthens your core, provides an excellent outlet for fidgeting, and makes it easy to consult with coworkers.
  • Adjustable Height: Switch up your seat height to better fit your physique, make interacting with your desk more comfortable, perch, and move to standing easier.
  • Balance: Subtle balancing can be fun, invigorating, and an excellent outlet for fidgeting.
  • Sit Still: Sure, the main purpose of an active sitting stool is to move, but sometimes you want or need to sit still and focus without the potential distraction of being forced to balance stressing about moving (or falling!). The best active chairs give you the freedom to choose when and how much to move. Safely sit still without thinking so you can focus—and then quickly initiate movements as you transition to a new project or need to spark some creativity.
  • Sit, Balance, and Move Safely: Safety is paramount in any environment, and active chairs are no exception. The concept of sitting actively involves movement, balance, and can be a novel experience for some. Safety is paramount for any active chair—and you’ll want to be absolutely sure you know how your active stool works: its range of motion, as well as its limitations—before sitting on it for the first time to minimize a fall risk and enhance your enjoyment and frequency of use.
  • Maintain Productivity: Sitting actively can be great for your health, spark creativity, and help you feel happier at your desk as long as it doesn’t detract from your work or stress you out. Precariously perching on one leg at the edge of a 1,000 ft sheer cliff takes all your focus and energy. Applying this philosophy to an active office chair means you’ll want to select an active stool that you can use almost subconsciously. 


If sitting on an active stool requires all or a majority of your energy and focus to prevent falling, how can you get work done? You probably can’t. You’re most likely not looking for an intense gym work out to do at your desk, but rather a simple way to move more that’s almost second nature. When selecting an active chair for your office, it’s important to understand how physically and mentally difficult they are to use. You’ll most likely want to select an active stool that gentle, easy, and safe for you to sit on for longer periods.

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