Cardiovascular and metabolic responses of active sitting while performing work-related tasks

Ergonomics. 2019 Sep;62(9):1227-1233. doi: 10.1080/00140139.2019.1633476. Epub 2019 Jul 2.


Stability balls and active-balance sitting chairs have recently emerged as a way to reduce sedentary behaviours in office settings. The purpose of this study was to determine differences in caloric expenditure and heart rate between a standard chair (SC), stability ball (SB) and active balanced sitting chair (ST) while performing work-related tasks. Participants (n = 20) performed a 10-minute randomised reading and typing task while sitting on the SC, SB and ST. For both the reading and typing tasks, heart rate (HR), caloric expenditure per minute and metabolic equivalents were all significantly greater (i.e. 6-13%; 19-40%; 18-39%, respectively) while using the ST when compared to the SC and SB. No significant differences were observed between the SB and SC for any of the comparisons. The ST produced a greater HR response and caloric expenditure than the SC or SB, indicating that active balanced sitting may be a feasible way to increase energy expenditure in an office setting. Practitioner summary: The purpose of this study was to determine differences in cardiovascular and metabolic responses to various forms of office chairs. The key finding was that active sitting on a balance chair significantly increased heart rate and caloric expenditure as compared to a stability ball and standard chair. Abbreviations: SC: standard chair; SB: stability ball; ST: active balanced chair; HR: heart rate; kcalmin: caloric expenditure per minute; MET: metabolic equivalents.

Keywords: Stability ball; active workstation; energy expenditure; standing desk.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings
  • Male
  • Metabolic Equivalent*
  • Sitting Position*
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Work / physiology*