In our modern age, an average office employee spends 10 hours sitting down each day, writing proposals, taking calls, and answering e-mails at their computer. Even those who work from home will end up spending a lot of time in an office chair.
Studies show that as economies across the world shift to intellectual or computer work, the numbers of people sitting all day at work are constantly on the rise. You might even be reading this very article from work, and you are most likely sitting down. It’s no secret that sitting too often is not ideal for your health, but it isn’t realistic for us all to work long hours and stand all day.
The bottom line is that sitting is a big part of our lives and that office chairs are an important consideration for most people. Although it seems like a small matter, this is a subject that professionals and entrepreneurs should put some thought into, for many reasons.
Better Chair, Better Health
First of all, well-designed chairs are better for your body. Although opting for a cheaply made, low-quality product may help you save money right now, it will come with a host of other issues, including pain in your shoulders and neck, and even a permanently bad back.
Choosing a quality product is crucial for your health, but that isn’t the only factor to think about. In professional settings, appearances do matter. You only have one chance to give your best first impression.
If you’re giving an interview to someone who is thinking about joining your company, they will be on the lookout for clues about you. Having subpar office furniture doesn’t send the best impression and can even appear a bit childish or unprofessional.
In addition to the visual advantages of choosing a quality office chair, there’s the comfort aspect to take into consideration. When you feel truly at ease, your imagination and creativity are free to roam, leading you to new and innovative ideas.
Being distracted by the physical discomfort that lower quality chairs tend to cause is detrimental to performing your best at work. Being comfortable means your focus will be at its sharpest and your productivity will soar to new heights.
The Beauty of Ergonomics
Ergonomics, also called human engineering, is the science of design for human equipment, especially in professional environments. This study is intended to reduce operator discomfort and fatigue and maximize productivity.
In other words, an ergonomically designed chair is a comfortable, quality chair. These considerations obviously matter, but some might still think that having their hands and desk at the proper height and position will be enough to make up for a poorly designed office chair. The truth of the matter is that back support is crucial for maintaining your health as you sit and work.
A quality chair gives you proper pelvic and lumbar support, taking harmful, unneeded stress off of your back muscles. Unfortunately, not every chair gives the support needed, and plenty of people spend day after day sitting at their jobs, which makes it obvious why so many suffer from back pain. The more time you spend sitting in a bad chair, the more likely you are to get back issues. Including but not limited to herniated discs.
Having the correct posture a quality chair provides, which includes a properly aligned spine, promotes endurance, better concentration, and better comfort overall. Poor posture leads to headaches and fatigue, in addition to the issues that will arise in your shoulders, neck, and back.
We will cover some tips for adopting the correct posture at the end of the article, but the first step is getting the right chair. There is no shortage of furniture companies, and consumers have the advantage of businesses constantly incorporating the newest technologies and data into their products to stay competitive and relevant.
If you’re looking for an office chair on a semi-strict budget, these sub-$200 options will give you the comfort and support you need without draining your funds. If you need something cheaper, consider the best office chairs under $100, or if you’re more concerned with comfort and ergonomics, check out the best reclining office chairs on the market.
What to Look for in an Office Chair
- Easy to assemble: Nobody wants or has time to spend hours assembling furniture. The ideal product will come with everything you need to put it together (or only require very limited extra tools), and be easy to put together even for those who have never assembled a chair before.
- Ergonomic support: Ideally, your new office chair will have been designed especially for keeping your posture erect, healthy, and comfortable. This requires a suitable back support and proper lumbar support. Some users prefer to have armrests on their chairs for maximum comfort, so take this into consideration if that applies to you.
- A luxurious appearance: Although this article is about finding a great product that doesn’t break the bank, you still don’t want your chair to appear cheap. The perfect addition to your office or computer desk at home will be designed to look attractive and professional. Not only does this send a better message to those who see it, but it helps you enter a productive and professional state of mind while working.
- Highly adjustable: Everyone has a different size and shape to their body, meaning that adjustability is a crucial feature when selecting the appropriate office chair. Look for one that allows for heightening and lowering of the seat, along with reclining features that allow you to rest easy in between work hours.
Here’s a list of the best office chairs under $200 and why they offer great value, comfort, and quality all in one package.
- LexMod Articulate Black Mesh Office Chair
- Alera Neratoli Mid-Back Swivel/Tilt Chair
- VIVA OFFICE Mid Back Chair
- Serta 43676 Bonded Leather Executive Chair
- BestOffice High-back Gaming Chair
LexMod Articulate Black Mesh Office Chair
LexMod is a brand that started more than a decade ago, entering an industry full of deep wallets and bigger names. Instead of trying to do too much at once, their initial approach was investing in a few select products and perfecting those first.
This approach appears to have worked out well for the company, and their Articulate Black Mesh Office Chair is the best choice overall on our list.
This ergonomic and upright chair comes with a plush, comfortable fabric seat cushion, and the mesh backing provides a breathable surface for your back to rest on. The chair’s seat depth and height are easy to adjust to fit your size and height perfectly, and the sturdy, durable armrests can be adjusted in height to help your posture.
This product also comes with lock functions and tilt tension that allows you to incline and recline as you see fit. The five dual-caster, hooded wheels on the chair allow you to glide easily over even carpeted surfaces while fulfilling your professional duties.
Assembly for the Articulate Black Mesh Office Chair requires a maximum of 45 minutes and is made easy by the straightforward directions. The chair offers great support for the lower lumbar area and feels nice to sit in, making it a great buy, especially for the price.
For those of you who work long hours, quality support is critical to the health of your body, as mentioned. The adjustable nature of this chair makes it a perfect buy for those who already struggle with back issues. The product has been well designed and built to last.
Check Price on Amazon.
Best Minimalist Option
Alera Neratoli Mid-Back Swivel/Tilt Chair
The Alera brand has a commitment to extraordinary ergonomics, styling, and performance in their furniture while striving to keep it affordable. Their Neratoli Mid-Back Swivel/Tilt Chair is our choice for the best minimalist option.
This chair is extremely simple and quick to put together, and should only take about 10 minutes or so. The installation process is just a matter of snapping in the casters, putting the lift into the chair’s base, and then putting the seat on the lift.
There are no extra tools needed and the chair comes with its own Allen wrench for the screws. You then put two screws on each chair arm, if you wish to attach the arms, and you’re ready to use it. This product looks beautiful once it’s set up.
The faux leather material is soft, appears real, and gives this office chair a high-end look. The frame, arms, and base are all well-made and crafted from sturdy metal. Most wouldn’t be able to guess that this chair is really affordable.
Not only is it well built, but it’s extremely comfortable. For those who spend full work days sitting at their computers and also need something aesthetically appealing, this is a good choice. This chair comes with padding that makes it bearable to sit for those long days of work. Although the padding is slimmer than other chairs, it’s a dense material that does its job well.
The style of the chair fits into a variety of home or office designs, adding the perfect contemporary and chic touch. It’s even versatile enough to go with dark wooden rooms or more traditional décor. When you first take the chair out of the box, you may notice that the recline is a bit stiff and that you have to use your feet to push off before you will remain reclined.
This is, however, adjustable and gets better with use. This chair is customizable and the tilt tension can be adjusted to find your perfect, personalized balance and posture.
Check Price on Amazon.
Best Task Chair
VIVA OFFICE Mid Back Chair
Viva prides itself on being a premier brand of office furniture and has its head office across the pond in Sweden. The company started back in 2008 and since then has been delivering products that are not only more fashionable than other furniture on the market, but also up to par on ergonomics.
For this to be possible, their designers are dedicated to researching health and safety in relation to their furniture and work to provide both in every design. Every office chair made by VIVA must pass tests to ensure top quality, and their Mid Back Nylon Base Adjustable Armrest Office Chair is no exception, making it our best task chair on the list.
This design suits bigger people who are up to 350 pounds in weight. The simple and easy pneumatic adjustments allow you to lower or raise your seat and recline if you wish, or to just sit up straight.
This product helps users adopt a sitting position that is ergonomically correct and healthy for the spine. In order to raise the chair’s seat, you only need to lean forward so that your weight isn’t on the seat, then pull upward on the control lever. In order to bring the seat down, stay in the chair and pull the lever up to personalize your sitting height.
The control lever also lets you pull it outward which will tilt your chair back, or you can lean forward and push the lever inward to keep it locked in place instead of reclined. There is also a knob with tilt tension that is located beneath the seat of the chair and is designed to allow you to rock back harder or easier according to which direction it’s turned.
The lumbar support offered by this product will hold your body well, with adjustable armrests, nylon casters and a nylon base for simple mobility. The chair is very comfortable, with a wide, contoured, plush seat. It’s simple to assemble this product and once it’s put together it stays solid and provides you with the support you need.
Check Price on Amazon.
Best Executive Option
Serta 43676 Bonded Leather Executive Chair
Serta is known for their comfort and has been around since the 1930’s when they introduced their famous “Perfect Sleeper” mattress. Ever since, they have introduced many innovative products to the market, including mattresses with gel foam technology.
Although they are primarily known as the #1 manufacturer of mattresses in the U.S., they have brought us the Serta 43676 Bonded Leather Executive Chair, which is the best executive option on our list.
The chair is crafted with durable, soft bonded leather on its surfaces and comes with a layer of supportive, comfortable memory foam on the back and seat. The back and seat cushions have been designed to be ergonomically contoured and the chair comes with perforated areas to allow the cushions to breathe and stay comfortable.
The armrests on this product are a bit on the wide side for some, but you can make adjustments to this by reversing the chair’s mounting bracket, moving them in closer if needed.
The chair’s cushions are comfortable and the design of this product allows you to make the adjustments you need until you find the right fit for your body. You can choose to adjust the seat height, back height, back angle, and also tilt recline as needed.
This chair is perfectly suitable for those with back issues and is comfortable enough to help with pain. You may want to keep in mind that this seat is 23 inches from the floor at its highest and 20 inches from the floor at its lowest. This means that shorter people might find that their feet don’t touch the floor when they sit. If you’re a taller person, on the other hand, this won’t be an issue.
Check Price on Amazon.
Best Gaming-Inspired Chair
BestOffice High-back Gaming Chair
This Ergonomic Design Racing chair is our best gaming inspired option on the list. It has an entirely unique feel and appearance to it for people who are tired of opting for the same traditional design.
The product comes with comfortable bucket seats that are suitable for long days sitting at the computer, and the back of the chair supports and molds to your back’s natural contours. Although some office chairs only come up to the middle of your back, this choice comes with a higher-than-average backrest, in order to provide your whole spinal column with the support it needs.
Whether you require support for intense gaming sessions or stressful working days, this chair will bring you the relaxation necessary to help your body feel at ease. Another unique feature of this chair is that it allows for adjustable backward movement from 90 degrees (for sitting perfectly upright) to 180 degrees for lying down flat.
If you like to take naps in between working or gaming, but prefer not to stray far from your screen, this is the perfect option. This feature is also suitable for simply resting your eyes and body. Try to recline slowly for safety purposes.
The product comes with amazing stability, comfy armrests, a metal base, and a steel tube designed frame. It’s very durable and thoroughly sturdy, especially for its price range. There is a pillow for back support, designed to help you keep your posture erect (the way it should be) to avoid back, neck, or shoulder pain.
It also comes with a pillow to support your head (perfect for taller users) and a footrest, also complete with a pillow. The footrest is long enough to support even taller people’s legs comfortably. You can pull this out when you want to use it and tuck it back out of the way when you’re done.
Assembling this chair is easy and straightforward, requiring about a half hour at the most to put together. It’s only a matter of securing the screws and placing the top of the chair onto the bottom half.
Keep in mind that during assembly, you might find it helpful to use a wrench along with the provided tool for getting the screws completely secured. The chair swivels 360 degrees, and the maximum capacity for this product is 250 pounds, so keep that in mind.
Check Price on Amazon.
How to Sit Correctly in an Office Chair to Avoid Back Pain
The main misconception around the subject of sitting down is that it doesn’t call for any effort from your muscles. That is simply not true. Your back muscles constantly work to keep your body upright as you sit down.
As mentioned earlier, it’s highly common for people to sit at their computers all day for their jobs, and when this is combined with a hunched over posture, it will eventually lead to a highly strained, painful back.
Here are some tips to follow in order to fix this problem or prevent it from occurring in the first place. They are designed to be easy and suitable for everyone regardless of fitness level
Stand and Stretch Frequently: You can do one simple move repeatedly, in between sitting, to help alleviate the pressure on your back throughout your workday. Stand up with your feet a bit wider than the width of your hips and reach upward, keeping your palms frontward.
Stand on tiptoe and spread out your fingers completely. This should give you a satisfying and relaxing stretch, resulting from the full body extension of your shoulders, chest, hips, knees, and ankles. You can also stretch out your shoulders by doing a circular motion with them every so often, which helps to relieve tension.
Walk Around Regularly: Humans are not designed to sit still all day and it ends up wreaking havoc on our bodies in many ways. You should never sit in the same position, hour after hour, without standing up to walk around at least a few times.
If you have an office job that requires you to sit for long periods, try to get up a minimum of once an hour and get your blood flowing by walking around and doing some stretches. Your back (and the rest of your body) will thank you.
Remind yourself of your Posture: The first step to maintaining a healthy form is establishing that you have the correct posture. This can be done by standing up against a wall with your buttocks, shoulder blades, and head touching it.
Have your heels no more than 4 inches away and run your palm against the wall just behind the lower back. When you are standing correctly, you will find that your hand just fits into this space. If you notice that there’s too much space there, you need to contract your stomach muscles and try to get your back closer to the wall. If you notice that your hand doesn’t fit at all, you are hunching and need to remember to push the shoulders back until you reach the correct form.
Once you have established the correct form, memorize what it feels like. Then, you can remind yourself throughout the day to maintain it as you sit.
Sources & Further Reading
- Good Posture: Just How Important is it? Kansas Chiropractic Foundation
- Clean It Up! Being Productive at Work Starts with Organization, Business News Daily
- 5 Tips to Stay Healthy If You Sit at a Computer All Day, TIME
- What is LexMod?
- About Alera
- About VIVA Office
- Serta History