Everyone deserves a better working experience. FluidStance® decks are designed to do just that—increase movement in order to counteract the negative impacts of our sedentary lifestyles. Research has demonstrated that FluidStance decks increase heart rate, range of motion, and energy expenditure without disrupting normal workday tasks like typing. The decks have received high customer satisfaction ratings by getting people motivated to stand up and move more, ultimately making them happier, more comfortable, and more productive.
Recent research has shown that the number of hours we sit each day is negatively impacting our health, even if we are exercising regularly.1 Sitting is an inevitable part of life, however; from our time in the car to hours of screen time each day, we are doing too much sitting and not enough moving around. On average, we are sedentary for more than 8 hours a day, and this type of inactivity has been linked to increases in chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.1-3
It’s not hard to convince someone that moving is good for you, but it’s surprising to find out that too much sitting can be so harmful. Therefore, the messaging about long term health and fighting chronic disease is shifting. It’s no longer just about increasing vigorous or moderate-intensity physical activity; it’s about decreasing the time we sit in order to move more, even if the movement is subtle.4
Understanding this need to move more was the motivation for a team of designers and engineers at FluidStance to create the Level®, the Original, and the Plane™—standing platforms designed to increase movement by eliciting subtle, constant movement underfoot.
FluidStance wants to help redefine workplace wellness by enhancing the experience of standing while working. The Level is a convex-shaped board made in the U.S.A., with a top deck made out of bamboo or maple that has a GREENGUARD-certified finis, and a base made out of military-grade aluminum. The convex shape leads to three-dimensional motion when standing on the board, but differs from standard balance boards. The Level doesn’t make you struggle to balance or stay upright. Instead, the Level elicits subtle movements. During product development, exploratory research was conducted to ensure the final production models promoted a reasonable range of motion—limiting the dorsiflexion (toes above heels) and plantarflexion (toes below heels) to angles that are comparable to walking.
To study the effect of FluidStance decks on heart rate and range of motion, as well as on work-related tasks, the Level was tested by the Heeluxe Lab, an independently owned biomechanics testing facility (Santa Barbara, CA). While the Level was the only deck tested by the Heeluxe Lab, the functional geometry remains consistent across all three decks. The study group included 18 men age 18 to 35. All participants were using a standing desk in their workplace. None of the participants had used the Level or any other FluidStance deck prior to study participation.
Participants were asked to type for 10 minutes under 2 different conditions, while standing on the Level and while seated. Each participant was given an ergonomic assessment to ensure that the locations of the keyboard and monitor were optimal in the standing and seated position. The assignment of whether the participant completed the standing or seated portion first was random, and each participant was given 5 minutes to practice using the Level before testing began.During each 10-minute testing interval, the following were recorded:
The average heart rate of participants was significantly higher while standing on the Level (92.4 BPM) versus sitting (80.3 BPM), resulting in an increase in heart rate of 15%. There was no significant difference in the number of errors made while typing on the Level (5) versus typing while seated (5.85); however, there was a decrease in the WPM typed during the standing portion (48.5) compared to the seated portion (53.9). As none of the participants had used the Level prior to the study, additional familiarity with the device would likely impact the WPM results.
Using a motion capture system, movement on the Level was measured and demonstrated an ankle range of motion (ROM) of 23.98 degrees (±4.65). This range is similar to the total ankle ROM experienced while walking (21.25 degrees ±5.67).6 The Level resulted in an average dorsiflexion (toes above heels) of 13.67 degrees, which is less than the reported average passive ankle ROM of 18.9 degrees (±5.9).7 These results support the design of the device as promoting subtle movements that are within a natural range of motion (Figure 1).
The Level was also studied by the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, which found that the deck, by increasing energy expenditure over sitting by more than 10%, passed NEAT™ certification criteria for standing. NEAT™ stands for the science of Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, developed by James A. Levine, MD, PhD and his team at Mayo Clinic. NEAT is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing yard work, undertaking agricultural tasks and fidgeting. Even trivial physical activities increase metabolic rate substantially and it is the cumulative impact of a multitude of exothermic actions that culminate in an individual's daily NEAT8. Dr. Levine, who coined the term “sitting is the new smoking,” has spent his career researching the effects of excessive sedentary time on adults and children. Low NEAT and sedentariness are major causes of obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, and two dozen other chronic disease and conditions.
In the study, 30 office workers of varying age and body type were asked to complete the following protocol:
Energy expenditure and heart rate were then measured for 20 minutes. Energy expenditure increased by 19.2% compared to sitting. Essentially, using the Level yields a higher caloric burn by allowing users more movement throughout the day.
A 30-question survey to collect user insights on usage and benefits of the Level, as well as satisfaction with the Level, was developed in collaboration with Category One, Inc. (Longmont, CO). An online questionnaire link was emailed to 2,795 customers who had purchased the Level in 2015. There were a total of 464 (17%) respondents. The majority of participants were 35 or older (81%) and male (67%), and reported working more than 40 hours per week (81%) and making more than $100,000 annually (76%).
In general, survey participants reported using the Level a few times a day (72%) and most often at work (73%). For participants who used the Level daily, time on the Level ranged from under 1 hour to over 9 hours, with the majority of participants (67%) using the Level for 3 or more hours a day (Figure 2).
Use over time remained consistent for the majority (62%) of participants, whereas 21% of participants reported increased use over time and 17% reported decreased use over time. Common reasons for increased use included feeling more comfortable on the Level than when standing alone or sitting, as well as gaining more stamina for standing on the Level over time. Approximately 4% of participants reported that use of the Level helped alleviate discomfort or pain that they had previously felt while standing or sitting. For the participants that reported decreased use of the Level, the most cited reasons included the novelty wearing off, forgetting to use it, and the Level not working with their office layout or standing desk configuration. In addition, approximately 5% of participants reported that the Level was not comfortable to use due to discomfort, sore feet, knee pain, or back pain.
A total of 66% of participants reported that the Level increased the amount of time they stand at work, as well as making them feel happier (83%), more comfortable (76%), more productive (59%), more focused (51%), and like they have increased core strength (57%) and better posture (83%) (Figure 3). Of the participants reporting increased standing time, 91% reported standing more by at least 1 hour to more than 7 hours (Figure 4).
Overall satisfaction with the Level was very high, with 95% of respondents satisfied (30%) or very satisfied (65%) with the Level and 92% of respondents likely to recommend the Level to friends and family. The most cited reasons for satisfaction included that the Level is fun, helps users to feel more comfortable standing, and is a conversation starter with coworkers.
At FluidStance, we want to enhance the standing experience. Our immediate goal is to introduce a subtle yet playful way to move more. The longer-term goal is to help people spend more time standing and moving in order to counteract the negative impacts of sitting too much. Since its introduction in early 2015, the Level has received high levels of customer satisfaction. The Level won Inc. Magazine’s 2015 Best in Class Design Award, and was named a finalist in the 2016 Edison Awards competition. Research has demonstrated that the Level increases heart rate, range of motion, and energy expenditure while allowing the body to stay within a natural range of movement. In addition, customer feedback indicates that FluidStance decks help increase the amount of time people stand at work.
Using standing desks, biking to work, climbing the stairs, and taking walking meetings are a few ways people are beginning to cut back on the time they spend sitting each day. A FluidStance deck is a great option for those looking to break free from a sedentary lifestyle by adding more movement to everyday activities. Customer feedback suggests that building up to standing on the Level for longer periods takes time. Therefore, for first-time users, our recommendation at FluidStance is to start with a 70:20:10 lifestyle: continue to spend 70 percent of your day sitting, take 20 percent of your time to engage in active desk use—such as standing on a FluidStance deck—and spend the remaining 10 percent of the day participating in high energy activities like biking or running. A life in motion doesn’t need to be difficult to achieve, and with FluidStance, we can move more every day.
26.5″ long x 12.2″ wide x 2.5″ tall; weight: 7 lbs., 11 oz.; designed for use up to 300 pounds
The Original Handmade Level has a premium base fortified with .250” military-grade aluminum that is sand-cast by hand in California using an eco-friendly “Green Sand Process.” This hand-casting process generates zero waste, with the sand molds being recycled and excess aluminum trimmings placed back into the supply chain. The base is available in five colors. The top deck is a solid half-inch of three-ply bamboo made with low emissions. Additionally, the bamboo is protected by a water-based finish that is GREENGUARD-certified.5
26.5″ long x 12.2″ wide x 2.5″ tall; weight: 7 lbs., 11 oz.; designed for use up to 250 pounds
The American-Made Level has a silver base of die-cast aluminum with .190” walls and is produced in California. All scrap aluminum from the manufacturing process is recycled back into the supply chain to ensure there is zero waste in the casting process. The top deck is available in high-quality multi-ply natural maple, maple with a walnut finish, or bamboo. The maple top deck is also protected with a water-based finish that is GREENGUARD-certified. 5
24” long x 12” wide x 2.5” tall; weight: 7 lbs., 2 oz.; designed for use up to 200 pounds
The Plane™ is the little brother of the category-creating Level. Slightly more compact, it offers a similar ride in a tighter, eco-friendly package. Fully recyclable, the base is molded from 100% post-industrial recycled materials, using high-molecular HDPE, which is one of the strongest plastics available. The top deck is made of 100% recycled low-emitting rubber for comfort and durability. Furthering our commitment to the environment, the entire product can be recycled, reducing landfill waste over time. Made in the USA, it’s designed and built in California.
1. Biswas A, Oh PI, Faulkner GE, Bajaj RR, Silver MA, Mitchell MS, Alter DA. Sedentary time and its association with risk for disease incidence, mortality, and hospitalization in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med. 2015; 162:123-132.
2. Owen N, Sparling PB, Healy GN, Dustan DW, Matthews CE. Sedentary Behavior: Emerging Evidence for a New Health Risk. Mayo Clin Proc. 2010; 85:1138-1141.
3. Levine, JA. 2015. Sick of Sitting. Diabetologia. 2015; 58:1751–1758.
4. Levine JA, Lanningham-Foster LM, McCrady SK, Krizan AC, Olson LR, Kane PH, Jensen MD, Clark MM. Interindividual variation in posture allocation: possible role in human obesity. Science. 2005; 307(5709):584-6.
5. www.greenguard.org: GREENGUARD Certification ensures that a product has met comprehensive standards for low emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
6. Blanke DJ, Hageman PA. Comparison of gait of young men and elderly men. Phys Ther. 1989; 69:144-148.
7. Fong CM, Blackburn JT, Norcross MF, McGrath M, Padua DA. Ankle-dorsiflexion range of motion and landing biomechanics. J Athl Train. 2011; 46:5-10.
9. NEAT™-certified is a trademark of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research and used under license.