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A growing body of research shows we all sit too much – A recent study shows, those of us that sit more than 11 hours a day actually have doubled our chance of dying from any cause – and that’s regardless of age – compared to those that sit four hours or less.

So what’s the alternative? Standing all day? Taking short walks every now and then? Maybe …

…at the risk of sounding obvious, we sit for good reasons: To have a steady vision and good fine motor control. This way we get work done, read, surf the internet, watch TV, eat, etc. So mostly we sit because we need a steady upper body for work and play.

As any foot wiggler will tell you, your lower body doesn’t need to be still during sitting – though most of us  were taught early on to “sit still” and aren't wiggling all that much while sitting.

If the reason I sit is because I need a steady upper body, is there a way to move my lower body while sitting to avoid the detrimental health effects of sitting still? At this point, we have translated the problem of 'sitting too much' into an engineering problem: How do I sit with a steady upper body while giving myself the freedom to move my leg muscles since these don’t need to be steady?

Crafty engineers have thought of two popular approaches to this – and there is now a very promising third one:

First approach, creating so called passive motion chairs that allows some body motion while seated, such as the Airis Implusmoebel’s Swopper stool, Wilkhahn’s On!,  the popular Swiss medicine balls for sitting on, etc. Trouble with these devices is that research either finds that they lead to no additional muscle movement[1], or that the added motion effect is so small as to only burn about 4 extra calories an hour[2]. At that rate, you’d have to sit on an exercise ball (vs. an office chair) for about 850 hours to burn enough calories to lower your weight by one pound. Ouch!
Second Approach, and also very popular: Sit-to-Stand height adjustable desks which unfortunately, suffer from similar effectiveness problems: Spending some time standing and some time sitting may have marginal benefits for your spine, but in terms of increasing physical ACTIVITY standing falls far short. You’d again need to stand for about 850 hours to burn enough calories (vs. sitting still) to lose one extra pound of weight. Also, statistically speaking, workplaces who purchase Sit-to-Stand desks for their employees do NOT see a decrease in sedentary behavior among their workers[3] - most workers just don’t end up using them that much.
Enter the third approach: Active Motion Seating. The first device to allow you to sit and exericse your legs was the LifeBalance StationTM - though at ca. $ 3,000 to $ 8,000 (depending on options) it was expensive and it also required a ton of space. But now there is activeLife TrainerTM. This elliptical machine connects to your favorite office chair and because it's small it slips right under your existing desk. So you can convert the work station you already have into an Active Motion Work Station that allows you to do gentle, low intensity leg motions all day long DURING work .... and play.  And while keeping your upper body perfectly still. activeLife TrainerTM gives you all you need from sitting (stable vision and fine motor control) and nothing that you don’t (sedentariness).

activeLife TrainerTM ~ Active at WorkSM!