Furniture At Work®: Exercise Balls vs Office Desk Chairs

Office ergonomics should play an integral part in the initial planning of any office, influencing the business owner’s choice of office furniture. With such a vast array of office furniture to choose from, it is imperative to ensure that the office environment is optimised to maximise employee wellbeing.

In recent years, some companies have experimented with replacing traditional office chairs with exercise balls. A common component in gyms for years, these over-sized beach balls are excellent for improving balance and fitness and building core strength – but do they really belong in the office, and are they really a suitable replacement for a comfortable, ergonomically designed office chair?

The theory behind replacing office chairs with exercise balls is sound. With employees spending ever-increasing amounts of time at their desk, office work is an increasingly sedentary occupation. A report published by Business Insider outlines the health implications of sitting at a desk all day; it has been linked to increases in heart disease, obesity and more.

For office workers, the muscular benefits of using office balls at work are the same as they are in the gym. Users have to maintain their balance, working their muscles to avoid falling off while building core strength. Introducing exercise balls to the office environment could help workers to improve their balance and posture, helping them to burn calories while seated at their desk.

Nevertheless, compared with a well-designed ergonomic office chair, exercise balls have several significant shortcomings. Fundamentally, they do not provide workers with support that they may need throughout the day, such as armrests to protect the wrists and arms, and back support to avoid strain. You cannot alter the height of an exercise ball like you can with a chair, leaving some workers stretching to reach their keyboard. Extended use of exercise balls could actually increase the risk of strains, with the constant balancing required leading to fatigue.

There also legal implications to consider. Exercise balls fail to meet several important safety standards. Without an adjustable backrest, adjustable armrests, and five-star base, they fail to meet the minimum requirements of Health and Safety Executive guidelines. Critically, if an employee injured themselves at work using an exercise ball in place of a chair, a company could be liable to pay compensation.

In short, science sits firmly in favour of the traditional office chair. While the intent and theory behind the introduction of exercise balls to the office environment is commendable, ergonomic furniture should still be the manager’s first port of call in terms of creating the perfect workstation.

Furniture At Work is dedicated to providing comfortable, highly functional office equipment, and is proud to present a comprehensive selection of adjustable seating, enabling the individual worker to adjust their chair to the optimum position and height for them.

From antique replica executive chairs to mesh seating, Furniture at Work offers a broad range of office chairs to suit all budgets and tastes. Delivering some of the lowest prices in the UK, Furniture At Work caters for all aspects of office décor, from office seating and desks to storage and lockers.

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