(Left to right) Focal Upright Furniture Locus Workstation and the HG Capisco 8106
Sorry pavement pounders: Exercising an hour a day is just no match for sitting out the other 23.
Recent research in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity suggests that gym rats spend as much time sitting down as couch potatoes do—about nine hours a day, to be exact—that's 64 hours per week planted on your rear end. The fattening problem: When you sit and your muscles (especially those in your legs) are immobile, causing your circulation to slow and your metabolism to stall. The enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides (a type of fat) simply switch off and you burn fewer calories and store more sugar, according to study author Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., professor and director of the inactivity physiology department at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
The fix isn't just working out more. Research presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine shows that in general, people are about 30 percent less active on the days they exercise compared to days they don't hit the gym. Why? Maybe they think they've moved enough for one day, thank you very much. Or maybe they're just pooped.
Whatever the reason, the best way to fight "sitting disease" (we didn't make up the term, just ask the Mayo Clinic) is to never be in one position—be it sitting or standing—for very long, says Alan Hedge, Ph.D., director of the Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Laboratory.
So how does a society of sitters do that? With the latest designs in "fit chairs." We found five products that blur the lines between sitting, standing, and downright exercising. The result: a physique that looks anything but butt-bound.
Focal Upright Furniture Locus Workstation ($690, chair; $1,290, desk)
This height- and angle-adjustable chair (pictured, above left) lets you move from side to side (core workout, anyone?) while keeping your feet elevated. Pull up to the matching adjustable desk for perfect upper-body biomechanics.
HG Capisco 8106 ($831)
Padded with recycled bumpers and plastic packaging materials (see photo above at right), the chair's saddle seat allows your legs to drop, opening and lengthening your hip flexors (tight ones are to blame for everything from back pain to runner's knee). Bonus: The sit-or-stand option is great for those who tend to fidget (which, by the way, can burn an extra 10-plus calories a minute, according to from Mayo Clinic research.) You can even sit forwards, sideways, and backwards on this baby.
Varier Pendulum ($625)
Grandma was onto something. The rocking chair-like runners on this streamlined chair keep your thighs and torso at an angle greater than 90 degrees, allowing you to breathe more deeply and improving oxygen transport to your muscles and metabolic systems. Bonus: Perpetual rocking works your entire core.
Somewhere between sitting and standing, the perch's adjustable anti-pressure-point-seat alleviates tension that can block blood flow to and from your legs. Its slight arch also tilts your pelvis upright, supporting the natural curve of your spine to eliminate the desk-bound worker's second biggest complaint: back pain.
UpLift Upright Desk Bike ($295)
This desk-bound bike lets you get a high-intensity workout in between meetings, or go for an easy ride during your next conference call. It includes all the features you'd expect from a full-size spinner: resistance knob, adjustable seat and handlebars, basket-cage pedals, and a water bottle holder. Plus, it's portable: Transport casters make it easy to move.
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