Children now spend up to 85% of their day sitting 1. Reducing sedentary time and increasing active time in helps develop lifelong, healthy habits, and reduces the risk of obesity and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, later in life. Research has also shown that breaking up traditional classroom time with regular movement activities increases students’ attention, concentration and academic performance.
In a bid to address increasing sedentary time in children, New Zealand researchers introduced a ‘dynamic classroom’ to an Auckland school. All desks and chairs were replaced with a combination of Swiss balls, height-appropriate standing desks, bean bags and mats for 22 weeks.
At the conclusion of the study 2, students reported that they preferred standing desks to the traditional worked better at the standing desks, especially when they were writing or participating in group work. They also felt that standing made their legs stronger and sitting down made them lazier. “I can be more focussed and do my class work better with standing because nobody is interrupting me when they’re moving around.”
The teacher observed increased social interactions and happier, more motivated children. “When children are happier, they behave better and do better, then the teacher is happier as well. In fact I am more positive than I thought I’d be.”
And importantly, setting up the dynamic classroom was 40% cheaper than the cost of traditional desks and chairs.
The post-study interviews showed that not only did students’ behaviour and work output improve, they actually preferred the standing desks. This will form the foundation for further research in this area. This study will form the basis for further research.
Looking for tips to increase movement at your home, workplace or at school? Visit the Move More Sit Less Active Ideas page to learn about some fun ways to get everyone moving more.
- Upstanding kids: www.upstandingkids.org.
- Saeideh Aminian, Erica A. Hinckson & Tom Stewart (2015) Modifying the classroom environment to increase standing and reduce sitting, Building Research & Information, 43:5, 631-645, DOI: 10.1080/09613218.2015.1058093