Active Workstation Pros And Cons – Guide To The Best & Worst


Office exercise equipment is becoming increasingly popular amongst people concerned about the adverse health effects of sitting disease and those who are sick of being seated for so long. Being active at your desk is one effective way of drastically reducing your sedentary behavior. But are they really worth it and what are active workstation pros and cons?

10 Working From Home Life Hacks 2021
10 Working From Home Life Hacks 2021

What are the pros and cons of owing each piece of active office equipment and who should get an active workstation?

Read on to discover the truth about desk exercise equipment, which pieces of office furniture are most suited to you and which ones should stay on the shelf.

Along with that, get a flavor of the different types of active desk equipment.

This includes a pros and cons table of active workstation equipment along with tips and tricks that you won’t find anywhere else on the web.

Plus, if you’re planning to gift these to someone, this article will help you narrow that down

People are now spending as much as 13 hours in a sedentary position throughout the day. Over half of the time spent sitting is attributable to sitting at work. Source

Active Workstation Pros And Cons

Pros and cons of active workstations

Advantages of active workstations

Disadvantages of active workstations

Helps to improve overall health and well-being

More expensive than a standard desk

Help reduce sluggishness from constant sitting

May not fit in home or office

Can contribute to weight loss/calories burned

Doesn’t suit all heights or weights

Help to increase productivity

Can be noisy

Help to reduce duration sitting

Require assembly

Can strengthen muscles

May require electricity

Helps increase daily steps count

Can damage floors

Helps improve cardio abilities

Initially, users may feel tired after using them

Can encourage creativity

May require storage

May help people with back pain

May require maintenance

Introduces fun element to using a desk

Versatile – can be used for many activities

The below list highlights the advantages and disadvantages of 8 of the most popular types of active workstation:

Treadmill desks

Treadmill desk advantages

This is one of the most active workstations available. Instead of merely standing static at a sit-stand desk, this allows you to move and encourages blood flow.

It also gets you out of a sitting posture and is one of the most effective ways of burning calories while working at your desk.

Plus, some under desk treadmills can also double up to be used for exercise.

Treadmill desk disadvantages

That said, some under desk treadmills can be noisy and may not be suitable for use in noise-sensitive environments, such as a shared open-plan or in a house where everyone can hear it being used.

Furthermore, it is rather large in size, and you will need an average of 358.83 in2 space.

Plus, if you opt for a treadmill workstation, the under desk treadmill tends to be connected to the desk which means that you would need another desk for sitting at.

Treadmill desks are also one of the most expensive types of active workstations available; the cost of an under desk treadmill is even greater if you don’t already own a height-adjustable desk.

Before ever buying an under desk treadmill you should know what to look for when choosing a treadmill desk.

Tip: If you already own a treadmill, then a treadmill desk attachment may be an efficient means of converting your treadmill to a treadmill workstation.

Pros

Cons

Most active workstation available

Can be expensive

Increases overall energy & calories burned

Requires standing desk

Can also be used for light-moderate exercise

Requires large amount of space

Standing desk converters

Standing desk converter advantages

A desk attachment which is positioned on your existing desk and enables the user to raise and lower the height of their laptop or monitors, keyboard and mouse so that they can stand while they work.

Standing desk converters allow users to convert their fixed height desk into a sit-stand desk without the ordeal and added expense of purchasing a completely new standing desk.

Sit-stand desk converters are more cost-efficient than standing desks, are also much easier to assemble and require much less space than a standing desk.

Ultimately, they enable you to stand up at your desk and spend less time in a seated position.

Plus, they are often portable too. This means that you can share the desk riser with others or even use it in different rooms or offices.

Standing desk converter disadvantages

But you will need to watch out for light-weight desk risers as some of them are large and less portable.

The nature of standing desk risers is to be a compact addition to your existing desk.

They are primarily employed for holding monitors, laptops, keyboard, mouse and some ancillary equipment.

That means if you require space for reading documents or large files, you are unlikely to be able to achieve this using the small footprint of the standing desk converter.

Perhaps you could arrange your workflow so that you perform this at your desk instead.

The ergonomic setup of standing desk risers can be questionable at times too. Certain styles may force the user to bend inwards or backwards based on where the keyboard is positioned.

Shorter and taller users may experience difficulty finding a desk riser suitable for their height, especially if the height range of the standing desk converter is limited.

While opting for a unit with a large height range is an option along with placing it on a low or tall desk to suit your height, ultimately, you could be caught by the poor location of the keyboard.

This could lend itself to a poor posture, slouching and discomfort.

Cable management can be difficult too since the wires need to be routed in a way that they don’t become overstretched or pinched when the sit-stand desk converter is at the lowest and highest position.

Tip: If you work from home and you tend to use your kitchen table or a common desk, the desk riser can be used during the day and removed during feeding times or when the kitchen table is needed.

Pros

Cons

Cost-efficient means of standing at a desk

Smaller workspace available compared to desk

Can be portable

Limited number of units provide good ergonomic setup

Reduces duration that user spends sitting

Can create cable management issues

Standing desks

Standing desk advantages

The standing desk is one of the most popular types of active workstations that hundreds of thousands of people are increasingly investing in.

Their ultimate purpose is to grant the user an alternative posture to sitting, so the user can easily raise and lower the height to swap between sitting and standing.

Users who opt for a good quality electric height-adjustable standing desk will have an easier time adjusting the height compared to a manual standing desk.

The height adjustability of standing desks makes them an ideal piece of furniture to use in conjunction with other pieces of active office furniture.

For instance, they can be used with under desk treadmills, under desk bikes, under desk ellipticals, balance boards and kneeling chairs.

A growing number of studies are highlighting the positive benefits of standing, one of the primary advantages of a standing desk is the increased output of workers.

Studies are also showing increasing evidence that standing desks can contribute to overall better health and energy levels.

These could be attributable to the increase blood flow circulating around the body along with reducing the feeling of sluggishness associated with sitting for long periods of time.

Standing desk disadvantages

With a standing desk, you can only alternate between sitting and standing, unless you invest in other office furniture.

That means although you’re getting a break from sitting, you’re only changing to another static posture.

However, you might already incorporate movement into your day other than standing at a desk.

The ultimate goal would be to include active motion while you work, but that said, getting out of your chair is a massive health improvement compared to sitting all day.

Standing desks consume a large footprint, both in terms of floor space and the fact that you’ll need to grant vertical clearance for the unit to raise and lower without hitting off anything.

This means that you’ll need a large amount of area for them to be used in.

Standing desks also tend to be larger than a standard office desk.

The large size of the standing desk makes it a fixed unit that is not portable.
Plus, the large size is a factor in the cost of standing desks.

One factor that increases the price of some standing desks is choosing a larger or more expensive finish on the desk surface, e.g., hard wood.

Height-adjustable desks are also known to generate noise either from the motor operating to move the desk or the cranking motion required on manual standing desks.

Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list some of the quietest and loudest height-adjustable desks along with insider tips on choosing a quiet sit-stand desk.

Tip: A cable management system is sometimes built into the better models, and you can also purchase cable management equipment for a neater workstation setup.

Pros

Cons

Reduces duration that user spends sitting

Requires large amount of space

Shown to increase productivity

User is still in a static posture when standing

Compatible with other office exercise equipment

Not portable

Desk bike

Desk bike advantages

For those working off a tight budget, an under desk bike is probably the most budget-friendly piece of active desk exercise equipment available to buy.

However, purchasing the cheapest unit on the market is not advisable as it is liable to be weak, poorly designed and offering a poor user experience.

Desk bikes are also small in size and depending on the type of under desk bike that you choose, they are relatively portable too.

In addition to being portable, an under desk bike is very versatile insofar that it can be positioned at your desk, kitchen table, counter or even gaming station to enable cycling while you perform your tasks.

You could even use it on a chair in the living room while watching TV!

Under desk bikes can also be used for light exercise and some manufacturers even have exercise videos that you can follow.

Desk bike disadvantages

The primary concern pertaining to under desk bikes is the potential for hitting your knees off the desk.

If the under desk bike is going to be used at a desk, you’ll need to ensure that peddling won’t result in your knees hitting off the under surface of the desk.

This could pose an issue for taller users, especially if the desk is low, their knees already have a limited clearance when sitting at the desk or they don’t have a height-adjustable desk.

Furthermore, the chair that you’re using will need to be an appropriate height for peddling so that your feet can comfortably reach and pedal. Ideally, you’ll own an adjustable office chair.

If you don’t have a height-adjustable chair, this could pose some difficulty and discomfort.

On top of all that, the use of a desk bike doesn’t give the user a break from sitting down.

Fortunately, it does encourage movement, which is more than can be said for some of the active exercise equipment.

Tip: Choosing equipment with caster wheels makes for easy maneuvering.

Pros

Cons

One of the most cost-efficient active workstations available

Must be compatible with height of user and desk

Compact in size

Can cause knees to bang off desk

Can also be used for light-moderate exercise

User is still in a seated posture

Desk elliptical

Desk elliptical advantages

An under desk elliptical is rather similar to an under desk bike insofar that you’re sitting and peddling at a chair.

The compact elliptical grants the user the ability to move and encourage blood flow through their body so that they are not in a static posture.

The gentle motion is often considered therapeutic by many users and helps to alleviate pent-up energy and fidgeting that they experience from sitting too long.

Plus, some compact ellipticals can be used for light to moderate exercise, such as the Sunny Portable Stand Up Elliptical

Since desk ellipticals require less motion to a bike, your knees don’t tend to rise as high which means that desk ellipticals are less likely to cause your knees to hit off the desk.

This is one primary reason why taller people in particular should consider a desk elliptical instead of a desk bike.

Another advantage that some desk ellipticals have over desk bikes is the ability to be used both while seated and standing.

Desk elliptical disadvantages

Note that not all desk ellipticals can be used in a standing position, this is something you’ll need to consider when researching how to choose a perfect desk elliptical!

Similar to the desk bikes, you’ll need adequate clearance, so that your knees are not hitting off the bottom of the desk.

Furthermore, if you use the under desk elliptical on a chair or couch, you’ll need to be in a comfortable position and have an appropriate sitting angle so that you can pedal properly without impacting on your posture.

For example, slouching on the chair to try and reach the pedals could lead to back pain.

Again, the user is still seated if they are using the under desk elliptical at a desk.

It’s not advisable for desk ellipticals to be used in a standing position while at a desk.

Besides, it would be rather difficult to try and pedal while maintaining balance and working all at the same time.

Pros

Cons

Encourages active movement in multiple locations

Must be compatible with height of user and desk

More suitable for taller users than desk bikes

Can cause knees to bang off desk

Can be used for both sitting and standing

User is still in a seated posture

Kneeling chairs

Kneeling chair advantages

One of the primary advantages and purposes of a kneeling chair is to prevent you from slouching in the chair. This is achieved by altering your posture so that you’re forced into an upright stance.

The user sits on a chair which features knee pads so that they are sitting in a more upright posture while they work.

While users can still slouch, it is greatly reduced by the way you are positioned on the chair.

This is a huge advantage for people with back pain. Also, because the posture that you adopt while sitting on a kneeling chair distributes the weight of your body to your knees, shins and buttocks instead of all on your back, it lessens the pressure on your back.

Kneeling chairs come in a variety of shapes and designs to accommodate your comfort levels, needs and desires.

Rocker kneeling chairs have a curved base to enable a soothing rocking motion while you sit.

Depending on the type of kneeling chair that you choose, they can be compact in size, particularly the X-frame kneeling chair.

This can make them lightweight, portable and easily moved from one area to another.

Plus, when you want to return to sitting on your normal chair or standing at your desk, it makes the process easier if wheels are attached to the kneeling chair.

Kneeling chair disadvantages

Taking a break from your kneeling chair will be a must. Kneeling chairs are designed for short-term use and although many people claim to use them for the whole day, it’s advisable to take regular breaks from sitting on a kneeling chair.

This shouldn’t be a surprise to you – regular breaks are a requirement regardless of what type of posture or equipment you use.

It’s likely you’ll be forced to take a break anyway since the pressure of the weight on your knees could cause tiredness or soreness after an extended period of time.

On that note, if you do have problems with your knees, it might be worth consulting your physician to see if a kneeling chair would be suitable or not.

Furthermore, if your primary goal is to minimize the time you spend sitting and you want to prevent sitting disease, then a kneeling chair is probably not the best option.

It might not be a suitable furniture option for shorter or taller users, especially if there are no height adjustable features built into the kneeling chair.

Related: How to choose a kneeling chair? 21 watch outs

Pros

Cons

Helps reduce slouching

Can put pressure on knees

Compact in size

User is still in a static posture

Available in a variety of types

May not be suitable for taller users

Standing desk chairs

Standing desk chair advantages

Standing desk chairs are generally used by people who use a standing desk and wish to alleviate some of the pressure from their feet and body from the standing posture.

Furthermore, it allows you to maximize the duration you spend standing since you can alternate between various postures. For instance, you can lean, perch or fully sit on the stool while you use a standing desk.

Standing desk chairs can also be used in the absence of a standing desk, e.g., while at a standing meeting.

The lightweight nature of standing desk chairs makes them portable and easy to store. It also means that moving the standing desk stool out of your way is a breeze when you want to sit or stand.

Standing desk chairs disadvantages

One of the disadvantages of standing desk chairs that is a common observation amongst people who use them is that the seat often lacks cushioning.

This can make it uncomfortable to use for long periods of time.

Thankfully, there are some versions of wobble stools that are well padded, if this is a feature that you want.

Furthermore, since the base of the standing desk stool needs to be flexible to allow you to lean and perch, there are certain types of standing desk stools that are more unstable than others.

It will probably take a bit of time to adjust to anyway, but if you have poor stability, this might not be the most comfortable experience for you.

Also, while resting on a standing desk stool can reduce the pressure on your body from standing, it’s not a piece of furniture that’s intended for extended periods of use.

People should aim for about 20 – 30 minutes of use before adopting a new posture.

Often, this new posture should be seated to give you a break from your feet.

Pros

Cons

Encourages maximum use of standing desk

Users may feel uncomfortable

Lightweight and easy to store

Users may feel unstable

Helps reduce pressure on body from standing

Not suitable for use over long periods of time

Balance boards

Balance board advantages

Balance boards are synonymous with gyms as a training aid to improve your stability.

While the balance boards used at a standing desk don’t tend to be as challenging as those in a gym setting, they are a steppingstone towards improving your stability.

Plus, they come in a range of difficulty levels so that you can choose how stable or unstable you want to be while you work at your desk.

Unlike some of the other active office furniture mentioned in this article, the balance boards are one of the most compact pieces of equipment on the list.

This makes for easy storage, and they are also very portable too.

A board which features a curved under surface so that the user engages their muscles to stabilize themselves as they stand on it.

You can also sway from side to side or forward and back to encourage a gentle motion while you stand up.

Balance board disadvantages

While opting for a balance board can encourage you to strengthen your core and increase your stability, it can distract you from your work, especially when you are adjusting to it over the first few days.

If the balance board is too unstable for you, it could be rather difficult to get used to.

On a worst-case scenario, it might not be workable at all, especially if you opt for the balance boards with cylinders underneath them.

As with any piece of equipment on this list, injury is possible.

For that reason, testing out the balance board before you buy it would be highly recommended. The last thing you want is to fall off it and be bound to a chair and cast for weeks!

On another note, they don’t offer much in terms of movement, especially when compared with true active office equipment such as the treadmill desk, desk elliptical and desk bike.

Pros

Cons

Helps improve your stability

Some can be distracting

Available in a range of types & difficulty levels

Can be difficult to get used to

Compact and easy to store

Could cause injury

Regardless of what type of active workstation that you opt for, there will be periods where you’ll need to sit and rest. For this, you’ll need to choose an adjustable, good quality chair.

Remember standing all day isn’t much better than sitting all day – the key is to incorporate movement and change your posture.

Regardless of which you opt for, you’re guaranteed to increase energy expenditure and movement which will make significant steps towards to reducing the live changing negative health effects of sitting disease while also improving your general health and well-being.

If you’re looking for more information, check out this Best Active Workstation Types – Ultimate Buyers Guide!

Conclusion

With so many different active workstations to choose from, there should be one suitable for everybody. Using the above pros and cons of active workstations, you should be able to narrow down the selection based on your needs, area and budget requirements.

If your goal is to introduce movement, then a treadmill desk, desk elliptical or bike desk will be a better match. However, if you want a break from sitting, then a standing desk or even a standing desk converter are the best options.

Remember, if you do purchase a standing desk, it opens an avenue of opportunities to add on more active office furniture, including under desk treadmills, under desk bikes and under desk ellipticals.

Plus, with more and more people working from home and spending an increasing amount of time at their desk, an active exercise workstation could make for the perfect gift to your friend or workforce!

If you’re new to the world of active workstations is a new concept to you, fear not because I have been looking into the best types of active workstations which can be employed to introduce movement into your workstation.

Also worth a read, if I do say so myself: What Is An Active Workstation? – Plus The Amazing Benefits!


My aim with this website is to help you on all matters related to your home office and your work area. With that in mind, if you have any questions or comments on the above, please drop them in the box below. I’d love to hear them!

Sharon

With years of both professional and first-hand experience in office equipment and work settings, I now want to help you avoid making mistakes that countless others do. Whether you're studying or working from home, this site will help you create the ultimate haven for working safely, comfortably and productively in!

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