By now, most of us have heard about so-called “sitting disease,” the term coined by researchers to describe how much a sedentary lifestyle can harm our health. The average American spends 7.7 hours per day sitting down, increasing their risk of high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and death from cardiovascular disease — and that’s regardless of how much time is spent exercising in between. But even when our lives are on the line, a lot of us just can’t imagine standing all day every day.
Chairs that require “active sitting” might be one way to compromise. Instead of just sinking in and relaxing, we have to work to remain balanced on these chairs, engaging a host of muscles and keeping our spines aligned. In fact, active sitting has been shown to emulate some of the same natural movements we make while standing and walking. Typically designed for utility over looks, chairs that aim to alleviate the ill effects of long-term sitting often take the form of unsteady stools or yoga balls. That’s where the Rodeo Chair by Norwegian industrial design firm Hareide Design comes in.
Designed for use by both children and adults, the Rodeo Chair is an elegant circle of wood that provides a place to perch. Its shape gives it just a little bit of bounce and the ability to roll back and forth. When it’s not in use, it looks more like a sculptural object, blending seamlessly into the decor of the room.
Experts from the University of Stavanger studied the Rodeo in 2015 and 2016 to test its efficacy, finding significant improvements in spinal strength after sitting on a Rodeo chair when compared to standard seating. Since the sitter is in constant motion while using the Rodeo, their core muscles are always being put to work, keeping them from unconsciously hunching over.
“Back injuries are the most common cause of sickness absence, and the single disorder that costs society the most,” say the designers. “The Rodeo Chair is designed by professionals. The goal is to prevent wear and tear and improve back rest. The developer of Rodeo, physiotherapist Frode Skretting, has studied the science behind motion and is a specialist in general physiotherapy.”
In short, “Rodeo Chair simulates life and movement and breaks with a sitting pattern that contributes to a weaker and stiffer body.”
Winner of the 2015 Award for International Design Excellence for its innovation and beautiful aesthetic, the chair blends minimalist Scandinavian design with health-enhancing functionality. Made of special naturally treated plywood, the chair is available for €670 (about $780 USD) and comes in black, walnut, brown oak, light oak, and “book” finish.
Seeing the chair in action will show you just how it got its name. It really does require balance and coordination to keep yourself upright, which can only be good for your body in the long run. People who fidget a lot might even prefer sitting in a chair like the Rodeo while working or watching television. Would you swap your ordinary desk chair out for one of these spine-strengthening models?