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Is active sitting as active as we think?

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The aim of this study was to compare the biomechanical characteristics of sitting on a stool without a backrest (so as to encourage active sitting), sitting on a conventional office chair and standing in healthy participants. Thirteen healthy participants performed a keyboard-writing task during four (stable and unstable) sitting conditions and standing. Body segment positions and posture, postural sway and muscle activity of neck and trunk muscles were assessed with a motion capture system, a force plate and surface electromyography. The results showed that body segment positions, postural sway and trunk muscle activity were relatively similar for the stools without backrests compared with standing. All sitting conditions showed lower vertical upper body alignment, less anterior pelvic tilt and larger hip angles, compared with standing (p = 0.000). Unexpectedly, the muscle activity levels and total postural sway, sway velocity and sway in M/L and A/P directions were lower (p = 0.000) for the conditions that encouraged active sitting and standing, compared with the conventional office chair conditions.

Practitioner Summary: Thirteen healthy participants performed a keyboard-writing task during different sitting conditions and standing and were analysed regarding posture, postural sway and trunk muscle activity. Surprisingly, less postural sway and less muscle activity were observed during the conditions that encourage active sitting, compared with sitting on a conventional office chair.
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Keywords: biomechanics; computer workstations; office ergonomics; product design

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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