I know many of us face the same lower back pain and discomfort if we sit at a desk for hours. There’s a good chance that even if you adjust your posture every once in a while, the pain still persists.
For awhile now, I’ve researched and tested desk chair alternatives. I was surprised to find a good number of alternatives, and beyond serving as great desk chairs, they also bring some aesthetic appeal.
11 Recommended Desk Chair Alternatives
When searching for a desk chair alternative, I wanted something that was comfortable, fairly easy to get used to, and wouldn’t hinder my productivity.
If you don’t want to read through all of the options, I’ll cut to the chase: My #1 recommendation for a desk chair alternative is a fitness ball. It’s surprisingly comfortable, helps me improve my posture, and I like that I can bounce for some added movement throughout the day.
1. Fitness Ball
Fitness balls have become a very prevalent office chair alternative in the workplace. A ball like this allows you to engage your core while sitting down. Sitting on one of these fitness balls properly takes a bit of effort. You have to balance yourself and maintain good posture while using the fitness ball.
People with back problems have alleviated pain by using this as a chair alternative. You can use this throughout a typical workday to avoid the stress that sitting in a regular chair puts on your body. It will make your hips and back feel better at the end of the day.
As an added bonus, I love that you can also bounce while sitting. This engages your core even more and prevents you from sitting still all day.
- Easy chair alternative to make use of, especially when you want to give your body a break from regular sitting
- Can be purchased at a low price
- Can be used in the office regularly, as well as at home
- Helps you to work on your posture
- Feels good to sit on
- Helps you to engage your core, allowing your abdominal muscles to develop
- Challenging if you lack balance
- Not height adjustable like a standard chair
2. Standing Desk
You may have heard that sitting too much is very bad for your health. Recent studies have shown that sitting all day in office chairs negatively impacts your overall health.
If you want to find an alternative that will allow you to maintain your health, a standing desk is a great idea. A standing desk allows you to do your work while standing up.
Standing is much better for your health overall. I have an adjustable standing desk, and I love the flexibility of standing for part of the day and sitting for the other half. I like to stand in the morning to wake myself up, and then by mid-afternoon, I typically lower the desk so I can sit.
- Allows you to avoid sitting down while you are working
- Some are adjustable so you can alternate between standing and sitting
- Can avoid many of the health problems that people get from sitting down a lot
- Keeps you in better shape
- Several brands make these desks, so there are a good amount of options
- Not everyone is going to be in good enough shape to feel natural standing for their entire workday
- May need to get an anti-fatigue mat to stand on so your feet don’t hurt
3. Treadmill Desk
A treadmill desk is a fantastic way to stay in shape. You can walk while typing reports, answering calls, and doing all your other daily tasks. Some people may find this difficult, but for those who want to stay in shape, this will be a very good chair alternative.
Walking while working takes some getting used to, so I recommend starting out at a slower walking pace and increasing your speed over time.
- Great way to get exercise while you are working
- Won’t feel like you need to go to the gym if you are exercising throughout your entire workday
- Having enough energy to exercise throughout your workday may be difficult
- Takes some practice to be able to walk and type fast at the same time
- Treadmill can make too much noise during calls
4. Balance Board
A balance board offers a unique desk chair alternative if you want to add more activity and core engagement to your workday. These platforms with a rounded or wobbly base require you to use your legs, feet, and core to remain balanced while working. The constant micro-movements stimulate muscles to keep you alert while strengthening your body.
Unlike chairs that keep you static, balancing on the board encourages natural shifts in posture to avoid discomfort. The unstable nature helps align your spine and engage stabilizer muscles you wouldn’t target sitting motionless.
With promising benefits like improved focus, boosted circulation, toned abs, and reduced back pain, investing in a balance board can be an invigorating way to ditch the standard work chair. Just start slow until you get your “sea legs.”
- Engages core and leg muscles to strengthen your body through constant micro-movements
- Unstable surface improves balance and alignment of your spine
- Frequent shifts in posture prevent discomfort from static positions
- Takes time to get used to balancing on an unstable surface
- Requires focus and effort to balance, which could distract from work
- Not suitable for tasks that require very precise movements
Stools are like most office chairs, but they lack some features. The most notable difference between a chair and a stool is that a stool has no back. This forces you to maintain your posture, which can be good for you.
Barstools are commonly used in homes and businesses. Some people have barstools in their kitchens to give the room the feeling of a traditional diner. These stools can look aesthetically pleasing while providing people a comfortable place to sit. They’re good chair alternatives that can be useful in certain places.
- Can use stools in many areas throughout your office and home
- Easy to get accustomed to
- Finding stools that will match your desired décor style is easy
- Typically height adjustable
- Can be uncomfortable for long periods of time
- No back support
6. Beanbag Chairs
Beanbags aren’t just for kids! Beanbag chairs come in sizes for adults and offer a comfortable and casual seating option, which is a nice alternative to a traditional desk chair. A bean bag’s beads or foam filling allows it to conform to your body, providing cushioned support.
Unlike regular chairs, bean bags enable frequent changes in posture since you can easily adjust and flatten out the filling into different shapes.
While they may not offer the adjustable features and firm ergonomic support of office task chairs, bean bag chairs provide a more relaxed feel that some may find better suited for leisurely computer use at home. Their lightweight, portable nature also makes this piece of furniture easy to move around or stow away when not in use.
- Very comfortable
- Conforms to your body
- Easy to move and can be used in other rooms
- Easy to damage a beanbag chair if you are not careful
- May not be supportive enough
7. Kneeling Chairs
People with hip problems may want to look into kneeling chairs. These types of chairs are very good at relieving pressure from your hip area. When you first see these chairs, you’ll probably think they look funny. They have an unusual design, but sitting in one can be pretty comfortable once you’re used to it.
Kneeling chairs can also keep your spine aligned better than a traditional office chair. If you are worried about back issues, using a chair like this is a good idea. It doesn’t have a traditional back, and you must maintain a good posture.
This may be uncomfortable for some people, but it’s gaining popularity for those worried about fitness and spending too much time sitting down.
- Alleviates the stress on your hip and your hip joints
- Helps keep your spine aligned properly
- You’ll generally feel more energetic if you use this regularly
- Can be uncomfortable if you’ve never used one before
- Some people have problems getting up and down on this seat
8. Saddle Seats
Saddle seats or saddle chairs are becoming very popular as an alternative to traditional office chairs. One of the biggest benefits of using this type of seating is that it forces you to improve your posture. This is a chair with no back to it, and you will need to position yourself properly to use it.
How you sit on a saddle seat or saddle chair differs from a traditional chair. Your legs will hang more naturally, reducing the stress on the back of your thighs. Many people who switched to these seats have noticed less back pain. It’s a seat worth considering if you want to maintain good posture.
- Helps to reduce leg pain and back pain if you get used to using the saddle chair
- Your posture is going to naturally improve due to needing to compensate for the lack of back support
- This seat is very small, so it will be easy to store it away when not in use
- Not going to be comfortable for everyone
- The lack of back support is a deal breaker for many people
- Can be tough for people who aren’t in good shape to use this for long periods of time
9. Stand Up Desk Converter
Stand-up desk converters are an excellent way to get the benefits of a standing desk without fully committing to replacing your existing desk. These desktop accessory units can be placed on top of your desk to convert into a height-adjustable standing workstation easily.
Switching between sitting and standing throughout the day engages more muscles, burns more calories, and reduces the risks of prolonged sitting.
Standing desk converters add versatility to your workspace while promoting movement and improved posture. Models with tiered or separate platforms allow you to have a keyboard and monitor at standing height while still having access to your seated desk surface.
Even affordable options include features like gas spring lifts for smooth height adjustments. A quality desktop converter enables maintaining focus and energy without being confined to a chair, allowing you to alternate between sitting and standing effortlessly. It’s an ideal solution for healthy, active computing.
- Encourages users to stand and reduces the risk of slouching or poor posture
- Helps reduce the health risks associated with prolonged sitting, such as obesity and back pain
- Standing can enhance blood flow, potentially increasing productivity and energy levels
- Allows you to adjust the height to your comfort
- Takes up less space compared to a full-standing desk
- Quality stand-up desk converters can be relatively expensive
- Some models may have limited space for monitors and accessories
- May take time for users to adjust to standing for extended periods
- Standing for long durations can lead to foot fatigue or discomfort
10. Balance Ball Chairs
Balance ball chairs are a non-traditional seating option specially designed to engage core and leg muscles while sitting, thus strengthening the muscles and preventing or reducing back pain.
These are similar to fitness balls, except they have a base. These chairs feature a large, inflatable ball that acts as the seat, which is enclosed in a circular frame with a stable base.
A balance ball chair can be a fun addition to any workspace, allowing you to bounce and stretch while working. When purchasing a balance ball chair, examine the ball to make sure it is strong enough to hold your body weight without deflating. Also, look out for ball chairs with a sturdy base to help you maintain balance.
- Encourages users to sit with a straight spine and helps them to engage their core muscles
- Provides a subtle workout by engaging abdominal and back muscles
- Can reduce lower back pain and discomfort
- Easily switch between sitting and short breaks for stretching and exercising
- Some people find their concentration and energy levels increased while working in this chair
- Balancing on the ball may be challenging for some and could lead to instability
- May not be as comfortable as a traditional chair, especially for extended periods
- Requires more space due to the ball’s size and may not fit all desk setups
- May produce squeaking or rolling sounds, which could be distracting
- A quality balance ball chair can be relatively pricey compared to a regular office chair
11. Anti Fatigue Mats
Anti-fatigue mats are designed to reduce the physical discomfort that comes with prolonged standing on hard surfaces. These mats provide a cushioned surface that helps reduce pressure on the feet, ankles, and joints.
They are ideal if you spend extended periods on your feet, such as working in kitchens, factories, or using standing desks.
Some anti-fatigue mats also have slip-resistant surfaces, which reduces the risk of accidents while standing in the workplace. Consider getting an anti-fatigue mat if you’re looking to transition from standard chairs to standing at work.
- Provides cushioning and support to reduce foot and leg fatigue, making it more comfortable to stand for long periods
- Offers relief from joint and muscle pain that comes with standing on hard surfaces
- Reduces the risk of slip and fall accidents by providing a non-slip surface
- Helps employees stay comfortable and focused, potentially increasing productivity
- Available in various sizes, materials, and designs to suit different work environments
- Quality anti-fatigue mats can be relatively expensive
- Requires regular cleaning and maintenance to prevent wear and tear
- If not placed correctly, the edges of the mat can increase the risks of tripping
- Not suitable for all flooring types or environments
Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Really Need an Office Chair?
What Is an Alternative Chair for Back Pain?
A kneeling chair is an excellent alternative for individuals with back pain. These chairs promote better posture by tilting the pelvis forward and aligning the spine more naturally.
They also distribute weight between the buttocks and knees, thereby reducing pressure on the lower back. Other practical options include gaming chairs with high backs, recliner, and active sitting chairs like a balance ball.
Can I Use an Armchair as a Desk Chair?
Yes, you can use an armchair like one from IKEA as a desk chair, though it’s not the most practial option. You’re usually sitting farther back in an armchair, so reaching everything on your desk can be hard. Additionally, you’ll need to ensure the chair’s arms can fit under the desk.
There are several healthy sitting alternatives to traditional chairs. Many options discussed above are designed to enhance comfort, improve posture, alleviate pain, and increase productivity in their own special ways. To find the best option, consider your physical needs, workspace requirements, and financial capabilities.