With more people spending more time seated in front of computers, we see an increase in health problems related to the bad posture that can be caused by long hours slouched in an office chair. In response to this problem, a variety of gaming chairs have come on the market with features designed to combat the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
Are gaming chairs good for your back? A sedentary lifestyle, including extended periods of sitting every day, has a negative impact on your health. If your job or hobby requires you to be seated, a quality gaming chair will improve your posture. This will mitigate the negative effects of long hours in a seated position and offer other health benefits.
A lot of good jobs require eight or more hours every day in front of a computer screen. A lot of great games can keep us in our chairs for that long or longer. While that much sitting is never going to be “good” for us, a quality chair can help to alleviate some of the harmful effects. If your job or hobby has you sitting for long stretches, you should consider a gaming chair.
The Benefits of a Gaming Chair
If you work an office job or enjoy console or computer gaming for recreation, you might have noticed some nagging issues that have developed gradually over time. Typical office chairs and desk set-ups promote bad posture. Staying in these positions for extended periods trains our bodies to slouch, which can have a whole host of negative effects on our health.
The bad posture promoted by extended periods of sitting in badly designed chairs can cause shallow breathing, tight joints, and diminished circulation. Over time this can lead to fatigue, irritation, headaches, and decreased lower limb strength and mobility. Another common consequence of a sedentary lifestyle is weight gain.
Gaming chairs are ergonomically designed to minimize the negative impacts that prolonged periods of sitting have on your posture. They work to align your spine, distribute your weight evenly, and support your arms and wrists—which helps to protect against instances of carpal tunnel syndrome.
It’s true that even the best gaming chairs can only reduce the negative effects of long hours seated. No chair can eliminate them entirely. And a chair certainly can’t improve your overall health the way that stretching, yoga, or strength training can. But choosing a chair that mitigates the negatives of sitting certainly contributes to improved health.
What Features to Look for in a Gaming Chair
There are many good jobs that give us no choice but to spend the majority of our days in a seated position. Computer and console gaming have become some of the most popular pastimes for adolescents and adults alike. Some people have turned gaming into an extremely lucrative career.
For all of these reasons and more, it makes sense to accept that too much sitting to be good for us will be a necessary part of life for some. While regular exercise and periodic breaks for stretching are important ways to combat the negative effects of sitting, there’s no single choice you make that can do more to combat these negatives than your chair.
So, what sets a quality gaming chair apart from a common office chair? What features should you look for when you’re shopping for one?
Many gaming chairs will claim that they are one-size-fits-all. And while this is technically true, every chair will have a recommended weight rating that you should take into consideration. Beyond the weight rating, there are many ways that chairs vary in their dimensions. Finding a chair that is best suited to your height and weight is key to maximizing the benefits.
One reason for the variation in size between chairs is the differences in the average size of men and women in different parts of the world. The average man in the United States is taller and heavier than the average man in Asia. When manufacturers design a chair, they might have one market in mind more than another and produce a chair that reflects that.
But a chair that is too large or too small for you won’t do you as much good as one that fits you. The contours of the backrest, the placement of the support cushions, even the alignment of your legs, knees, and feet—all contribute to the overall benefits that a gaming chair can have for your posture.
There are three points of adjustment that you should consider when you’re comparing gaming chairs. The best chairs will have multiple adjustments at each point. Some chairs won’t offer adjustment at all three points. Knowing what to look for and deciding what you want will help you choose a chair that is right for you.
- Height: Almost every gaming chair is going to allow you to adjust the overall height.
- Recline: Most gaming chairs will allow you to adjust the backrest to recline for reading or relaxing.
- Armrests: Most gaming chairs will allow you to adjust the height of the armrests. The best gaming chairs will offer up to four directions of adjustment in the armrests.
The cheap padding in typical office chairs will stay compressed when you get out of your seat. Insubstantial padding allows you to sink into the chair. This can be uncomfortable when you end up sitting against the frame of the chair instead of the padding. This can also cause poor circulation and lead to pins and needles in your lower extremities.
The best gaming chairs use cold foam padding. It’s the same material that is used for the driver’s chairs in race cars, movie theater seats, and other furniture where quality and performance are important.
A quality gaming chair should provide extra support in two key areas—the lumbar area and the area around your neck and shoulders. The extra support in these two areas is key to promoting good posture and combating the onset of a permanent slouch.
The best gaming chairs will allow you to adjust the support cushions to customize the chairs to fit your body. The support cushions should be sturdy and firmly attached to prevent them from shifting out of position over time.
The height and contours of the backrest in a gaming chair are the primary feature that sets them apart from a standard office chair. The height is important because it offers support to your entire spine – from the headrest to the seat pad. The contours are important because they align your spine for maximum benefit to your posture.
When shopping for a gaming chair, you should look for a backrest that fits your body. The goal is to be comfortable in the chair when you’re in the ideal seated posture. That’s how you will train your body over time to default to good posture rather than a slouch.
Gaming chairs range in price from under $100 to over $500. It’s definitely worth taking some time to consider how much you want to invest in one before making a purchase.
If being at your desk is essential to your work, then you should consider a gaming chair part of your professional toolkit—an investment in your business and your health. Spending a little bit more to get a chair that will allow you to earn a living, stay healthy, and feel good makes sense.
If gaming is a hobby and you always have the option of taking a break to stretch and get the blood flowing, then you might want to consider a less expensive model.
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is right for you, your situation, and your needs.
It doesn’t look like the trend toward computer-focused work and recreation is going to reverse any time soon. But taking advantage of these opportunities doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your health in the process. By choosing a quality gaming chair, you can mitigate the negative effects of long periods of sitting required by your job or a favorite hobby.