Can a Posture Correcting Chair Improve Mental Performance?
Chances are, you are probably sitting down while you read this. Perhaps you are on break at work, trying to get through your mid-day crash. Another cup of coffee or a granola bar are just not cutting it these days. Too bad your office chair can’t fold out into a bed so you can take an afternoon nap.
But what if your chair could actually boost your performance, just in a different way? Could you believe that a posture correcting chair can actually improve your mental performance?
What is a posture correcting chair?
Posture correcting chairs are pretty self-explanatory. They are specialized chairs that help to improve one’s posture, especially while sitting at work for hours upon hours each day.
But of course, there are several different types of chairs to choose from:
- Kneeling chair
- Exercise ball
- Saddle chair
- Recliner chair
- Active sitting chair
One of the best posture correcting chairs to improve mental performance is an active sitting, also called dynamic sitting, chair. A great example of this is the Symbiotic Chair.
An active sitting chair allows you to engage your muscles while allowing you to move freely with balance and adequate support. In other types of posture correcting chairs, you do not have the balancing mechanism that allows you to use your own core and postural muscles to move while still maintaining support from the chair.
This continuous movement and muscle contraction and relaxation promotes a healthy environment, not just for your low back health but also for your mental performance. Plus, it increases your overall physical activity throughout the day.
What is mental performance?
Mental performance encompasses so many different things, especially as it relates to psychology and the workplace.
Major components of mental performance includes:
- Ability to focus
- Problem solving
- Functioning of the executive mind
- Stress resistance
How many times have you felt like your work performance has decreased due to being uncomfortable at your desk, because of back pain, or just from being stiff and sore from sitting for so long?
This is because your mental performance at work is directly tied to your physical body, your ergonomics, and the chair you are using.¹
Use of posture correcting chair to improve mental performance
Your posture and mental performance create a cycle. This cycle can either be vicious, or healthy and enjoyable. Finding the right chair can help break the bad cycle.
For example, if you are sitting at work in a comfortable, ergonomically friendly chair, you are more likely to have good posture. This good posture promotes improved productivity, decreases the chance of pain or injury developing, and simply makes your work day more enjoyable.² ³ Proper posture, from a well-designed chair, promotes good mental performance at work.
On the other hand, say you have a bad chair, one that is not posture correcting. This improper chair makes you sit slouched and slumped over.² As you adopt this posture, pain can arise and it shortens the muscles in the front of your body, and lengthens and weakens the ones in the back. This decreased mobility and increase in weakness and in pain that comes from poor posture is going to inevitably decrease your mental performance at work. You may become even more distracted by your pain. Then you may become even more tired and slouch even more! And the negative, vicious cycle continues to spiral.
But, if you have a posture correcting chair, you are less likely to go down the path of pain, injury, and poor mental performance.⁴
There is a growing amount of evidence proving how valuable your posture and your chair are when it comes to mental performance at work.
One of the most important studies done so far has looked at the school aged population. This particular study demonstrates the amount of physical activity that comes from using an active sitting chair actually improved the ability of the students to stay on task and improved their academic achievement levels.⁵ If you recall from earlier, active sitting chairs are one of the best types of posture correcting chairs.
They found that this increase in physical activity from the active sitting chair, provided more stimulation and an increase in the sensory experience, allowing the students to stay more engaged in the tasks at hand.⁵
Another recent study looked at an older population. Instead of students, this population consisted of working aged adults. This study assessed different sitting and standing postures and how it affects cognitive performance. This study found that the standard sitting posture was the best posture for helping to increase cognitive performance in the workplace.⁴
Let’s face it. Not all of us can simply stop sitting at work. Some of us cannot use a standing, treadmill, or cycle desk. But maybe some of these standing options are not even the best for productivity and mental performance at work.
So, if you have to sit for work, you may as well sit with a posture correcting chair, especially if it promotes active sitting, as you will feel better both physically and mentally at work.
Author: Adria Biasi
Author is US based Doctor of Physical Therapy and Board Certified Orthopedic Specialist