Sitting disease is a growing epidemic worldwide, so it’s no wonder people are seeking ways to reduce their time in a sedentary position. But what is an active workstation? What are the uses of active office equipment and who should get an active workstation?
Read on to discover the remarkable life-changing health benefits of active workstations, along with the different types of active desk equipment.
Plus, they are all very distinct pieces of equipment. So, this article breaks them down into easy tables and guides so you can effortlessly make a decision on their suitability.
This includes a comparison table of desk treadmills and desk ellipticals along with tips and tricks that you won’t find anywhere else on the web.
Physical inactivity contributes to more than 3 million deaths worldwide every year. That’s 6% of all deaths which could have been prevented. Source
What is an active workstation?
An active workstation is a place where you can work while also being active. Usually this comprises of piece of furniture or equipment which can be added to a desk to enable the user to change their posture from just sitting. Their primary purpose is to reduce the amount of time in a static posture by allowing the user to either get up from their chair or introducing motion while you sit.
With active office furniture, you can introduce movement including, standing, walking, peddling, perching, leaning and balancing. Active workstations come in various forms and the active workstation that will suit you best is dependent on both your requirements and your environment.
Although they are often promoted as a product for office workers who sit for long periods at a desk, they are versatile units which can be used both at home and in the office.
Examples of uses are listed throughout the article.
Types of active workstations
The below list highlights the 8 most popular types of active workstation:
- Standing desk: A desk with a motorized frame that allows the user to raise and lower the height of the desk to enable both sitting and standing postures.
- Standing desk converter: 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.
- Treadmill desk: An under-desk treadmill is situated under a standing desk and facilitates walking while you are at your desk. The under-desk treadmill can usually be wheeled out from under the height-adjustable desk when the user wants to take a break from walking. This is one of the most active workstations available.
- Bike desk: An under desk bike that can be positioned at your desk, kitchen table, counter or even gaming station to enable cycling while you perform your tasks.
- Desk elliptical: An under desk elliptical that is normally used while sitting on a chair to enable a peddling motion. Some desk ellipticals can also be used in a standing position.
- Kneeling chair: The user sits on a chair which features knee pads so that they are sitting in a more upright posture while they work. Some kneeling chairs have a curved base to enable a rocking motion while you sit.
- Standing desk chair: A chair or stool that you can lean, perch or fully sit on while you use a standing desk. It is designed to give your body a break and take some pressure off your feet from standing. It can also be used in the absence of a standing desk, e.g., while at a standing meeting.
- Balance board: 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.
If you’re curious about the most active workstation equipment, find out here if under desk treadmills are really worth it.
Differences between active work desks vs standard office desks?
Cost of equipment
Active workstations can range in prices from as little as $29.99 – $4973. In comparison, a standard desk could cost as little as $79. A budget office chair can be purchased for as little as $97.75. This means that introducing motion into your workstation can be achieved on a budget.
However, as a word of warning, buying the cheapest furniture and office exercise equipment could lead to poor quality, weak materials which won’t last or simply won’t do what you expect.
You could ultimately be buying into a false economy. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for!
Either way, a decent sized desk and good quality multi-functional office chair will be an essential buy if you’re kitting out your workstation from scratch.
But remember that cost is relative. If you’re opting out of investing in an active workstation in an attempt to save money, bear in mind that you could ultimately be paying for it in medical bills and long-term health problems.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll cherish your health and set more value on being in good health and pain-free if it is at the mercy of a few measly hundred dollars!
Size of equipment
Active office equipment will take up space and you will need to have both the room and storage for the equipment. Fortunately, some units such as balance boards and standing desk stools only take up a marginal amount of space.
However, if you’re opting for a treadmill base, these are far bigger and consume more space than any other piece of active furniture. Treadmill desks consume an average footprint of 358.83in2.
Even standing desks tend to have a larger surface area than some standard office desks. They tend to range somewhere in the region of 42 inches to as wide as 80 inches.
This is in comparison to a standard office desk which tends to be 30 inches wide for a compact desk and between 47 – 55 inches wide for the average desk width.
Weight of equipment
Whether it’s a standing desk, a desk riser or a compact elliptical, there’s going to be more weight of equipment putting force on your floor. While this probably won’t matter 90% of the time, when you go to move objects, e.g., for painting or assembling, you will notice it then.
With a standard office setup, the only furniture that will concern you for movement is the chair. With an active workstation, you are more likely to be moving the active equipment around.
For instance, after using a treadmill base for a duration, you’ll probably need to move it to slot your chair in under the desk.
But, if you are fortunate enough to have invested in a portable under desk treadmill, such as the compact and lightweight Sunny Portable Stand Up Treadmill, then you can simply remove the treadmill base by wheeling it out of the way with ease and moving your chair into position.
Tip: Watch out for equipment that contains caster wheels for easy maneuvering.
Standing vs sitting posture
With a standard desk and chair, you are primarily confined to a seated position. However, with an active workstation, you can incorporate at least 2 or more postures into your stance.
The more advanced type of workstation that you opt for and the more furniture that you invest in, the greater the range of postures you’ll be able to adopt.
For instance, if you own a standing desk and an under desk treadmill, you’ll be able to sit, stand and walk, which gives you more variety and an opportunity to have a break from the same stance.
This could ultimately mean that you expend more energy and burn calories from walking and standing compared to sitting.
Sitting at a desk for long periods of the day can cause muscles to weaken and tighten, such as the glutes, hip flexors and back. This can in turn lead to back pain.
With an active workstation, you are engaging these muscles more and changing their position which can minimize the risk of them becoming tight and weakened. Plus, movement helps with blood circulation around the body too.
Standing helps engage the quads as well as the hip flexors, glutes, groin and hamstrings.
An under desk elliptical primarily targets hamstrings, quadriceps and calve muscles in the legs. Core muscles in your stomach can also be engaged if you avoid using a backrest or armrests on your chair.
The muscles engaged while walking on an under desk treadmill mainly include the quad muscles. The hamstrings, glutes, calves and ankles are also activated to a lesser extent. You may also be working the upper body, since your torso and core are supporting your body in an upright stature.
Knowing what to wear when using an active workstation can greatly help with your comfort and reduce sweating too!
I’ve previously highlighted the pros and cons of walking workstation of a treadmill desk, and if you haven’t yet read these, they are worth even a few minutes of your time, even if all you read are the expert tips.
Where can I use an active workstation?
Active workstations are versatile units that can be used for a wide range of purposes other than at your desk or office. The below table highlights the many activities that you can during.
Active workstations and activities they can be used for
On its own
Sitting at an office or desk
Gaming, watching TV
Chatting, listening to music, on a device, reading
For light to moderate exercise
Under desk treadmill
Under desk elliptical
Standing desk converter
Standing desk stool
If you are in the process of purchasing standing desk, knowing the best type of height adjustable desk for you along with the key criteria to look for when choosing the perfect desk will be important to know to prevent health issues arising while also promoting a better workflow that suits your needs and desires.
Following the checklist for a perfect home office will catapult your office, your comfort, posture and productivity to new peaks of success.
Should I choose an active workstation?
If you are someone who sits for a significant portion of the day and you want to improve your overall health and well-being by reducing the risk of sitting disease, an active workstation is a surefire way to achieve this. If you are able to take regular breaks away from your desk by getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so, this is an excellent step towards reducing your time spent in a sedentary position. So much so that you might not even need office exercise equipment.
However, with the nature of your work, pressures of deadlines and becoming engrossed in what you’re working on, this may not be sufficient to yield enough activity.
In that case, an active workstation would also help massively.
Active workstations can also encourage weight loss and increase your energy levels, productivity and fitness levels. This is particularly useful for people who are short on time.
If you already own a standing desk and wish to encourage more motion than simply sitting and standing, treadmill bases, under desk ellipticals and desk bikes
are an excellent solution to get you more active.
Treadmill desks are a level up from standing desks; they allow you to not only stand up from your seat, but they also introduce movement to a sedentary 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.
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.
Now you know what active workstations are, you can decide for yourself if they are a good match for you, your health and your environment.
If you’re keen to get out of your death chair and introduce movement into your workday, study, gaming or whatever static task you carry out, then an active workstation is really a no-brainer and an essential investment if you’re serious about your health.
Before ever buying an under desk treadmill or elliptical for your desk, you should know what to look for when choosing a treadmill desk as well as how to choose a desk elliptical – ultimate buying tips!
If the mind-blowing of health benefits of getting up and walking by using a treadmill desk sounds attractive to you, then check out my personal favorite products listed below for the under desk treadmill that I would recommend.
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 many other ways which can be employed to introduce movement into your workstation.
Why not start off by familiarizing yourself with some of the below blogs!
The below items are what I’ve looked into so far in order of preference:
- Treadmill desks
- Standing desk converters
- Ergonomic chairs
- Standing desks
- Desk bike
- Desk elliptical
- Kneeling chairs
- Standing desk chairs
- Anti-fatigue mats
- Balance boards
My personal favorite products so far are the:
- Sunny Treadpad Slim Under Desk Treadmill 20740
- Sunny Portable Stand Up Elliptical
- Ergotron WorkFit-LX
- Bush Electric Height Adjustable Standing Desk
- CoolMesh Pro Multi-Function Chair
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!