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Is Sitting Cross-Legged (on a Floor) Better than Sitting in a Chair?

Is Sitting Cross-Legged (on a Floor) Better than Sitting in a Chair?

Is sitting cross-legged better than sitting in a chair? Yes. Studies show that sitting cross-legged on the floor is healthier than sitting in a chair— but only if the chair is non-ergonomic.

Compared to a non-ergonomic chair, the floor is a better option when you must work full-time on your laptop. There is also evidence that sitting on the floor Indian style is more beneficial than other sitting positions, such as squatting or sitting with your legs extended.

Numerous studies reveal that sitting cross-legged on the floor has multiple health benefits. This “Indian style” of sitting on the floor improves posture, comfort, flexibility, and strength. However, not everyone can sit in this position, or can hold this position for long periods. The solution, then, for the best support while sitting is using an ergonomic chair.

Why Sitting On The Chair Is Bad?

sitting in a bad chair could be harmful
Sitting in a chair is not bad per se, but sitting in a bad chair could be harmful. In the same way, sitting for long periods every day is dangerous.

Prolonged sitting on a chair can cause the following:

  • Weight gain
  • Weak legs
  • Prone to injury
  • Heart attack risk
  • Bad back
  • Poor posture
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Cancer risk

Meanwhile, sitting in a bad chair causes the following:

  • Increased body fat
  • Poor blood circulation
  • Increased fatigue
  • Pain in back
  • Pain in neck
  • Pain in shoulder
  • Digestive problems

This is why it is recommended that sitting cross-legged on the floor is healthier than sitting in the chair— specifically the wrong chair.

Customary in May Cultures

sitting cross-legged is also known as yoga position
Sitting cross-legged is also known as “Indian style,” “Turkish sit,” the Japanese “seiza”, and the yoga position called lotus or sukhasana.

There is, however, no culture that can claim to own this sitting position. Sitting cross-legged is simply inherent in a human being.

In yoga, however, this is a basic position. It is used for meditation and relaxation.

Benefits Of Sitting Cross-Legged

Here’s why many people ditch the office chair for the floor— cross-legged:

Physical benefits of sitting cross-legged

Improves Strength And Flexibility

sitting cross-legged can improve strength and flexibility
Sitting on the floor cross-legged could improve mobility in the hips. Also, if you develop the habit of sitting down and standing back up from the floor, you develop strength and flexibility. Over time, you develop natural flexibility and it becomes effortless to stretch the legs, hips, pelvis, and spine.

When you can get up from your cross-legged position quickly and without support, it’s a sign that you are most likely to live longer.

Improved Circulation

Studies reveal that sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position contributes to better blood circulation. When you have improved blood circulation, you’ll be able to maintain healthy blood and oxygen flow in your body. As a result, your muscles, heart, and lungs work efficiently.

Less Hip Tension

Sitting on the floor allows your hip flexors to stretch easily. Hip flexors are a group of muscles near the front of the hip, where the thigh joins the pelvis.

Improves Digestion

sitting on the floor to eat improves digestion
Many cultures, like the Japanese culture, sit on the floor to eat. The act of repeatedly leaning forward to take a bite, then going back to your original position, stimulates the abdominal muscles. For this reason, there’s a boost in the secretion of digestive enzymes, which helps better food digestion.

Fixes Bad Back And Stress

Many people swear that sitting on the floor cross-legged relieved their back pain. Because this is a yoga position, it also helps in relieving stress. If you also do breathing exercises while sitting cross-legged, there will be an increase in the oxygen flow in your body.

The Negative Effects Of Sitting Cross-legged On The Floor

It turns out, sitting cross-legged on the floor is not always good or recommended to everyone. Here are the downsides of this floor position:

Pressure On Knee Joints

Studies show that sitting down cross-legged for a lengthy period could over-stretch the muscles and ligaments surrounding the kneecap. As a result, this pressure on your knee joints can cause pain and swelling.

You Can’t Hunch Your Back

you cannot sit cross-legged with your back hunched
You cannot sit cross-legged on the floor with your back hunched or your chin jutting. Otherwise, it can cause bad lower back pain and even contribute to poor posture— and even injuries.

Your spine should be in a neutral position, and your weight should be on your hips. If you feel that this requires too much effort, then skip sitting on the floor cross-legged.

Why Is Sitting Cross-legged Hard?

sitting cross-legged is not hard
Sitting cross-legged is not hard, as it is a straightforward position. If you are having a hard time sitting on the floor cross-legged, it means you have tense muscles.

If you have tense muscles, a few seconds of the cross-legged position will be unbearable. You will experience pain, pinching, or even numbness. This is why not everyone can benefit from sitting on the floor cross-legged.

Other reasons why it is hard for you to sit cross-legged are weak thighs, weak pelvic muscles, weak glutes, or poor blood circulation.

Is It Bad To Sit Cross-legged In A Chair?

it is not bad to sit cross-legged in a chair
If you are comfortable sitting cross-legged on the floor, you’d be comfortable sitting cross-legged in a chair. And it’s not bad or harmful to do so. As a condition, though, the chair should be wide enough and without armrests.

Sitting cross-legged or “Indian style” in a chair increases your comfort, improves muscle development, and boosts relaxation and flexibility.

However, if you are not comfortable with your legs crossed Indian style, then it is not recommended. If it doesn’t feel right, then it’s a sign that you shouldn’t continue with this position.

What is harmful, though, is sitting for long periods— even cross-legged. So you must get up every 30 minutes to an hour to avoid the harmful effects of too much sitting.

Is Sitting Cross-legged On The Floor Better Than Sitting On A Chair?

Steelcase Series 1 Work Office Chair, Licorice

It really depends on the chair. If your chair is wrong or cheap, you’re better off sitting on the floor cross-legged. However, make sure to frequently stand up to avoid sitting for long periods.

If your chair is ergonomic, which is designed to support a human’s musculoskeletal system and provide good comfort, then this is naturally better than sitting on the floor. An ergonomic chair has a lumbar adjustment— which means you can calibrate the height and depth. Its backrest is 12 to 19 inches wide.

Final Thoughts

Compared to a chair that is wrong, cheap, or non-ergonomic, sitting on the floor cross-legged is healthier for your body and provides more comfort. Since not everyone can actually sit Indian style, the only solution for a healthier sitting position is an ergonomic chair.

An ergonomic chair trumps sitting on the floor cross-legged. But make sure to stand and walk around from time to time for health reasons.