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Innovative study introduces standing desks in schools

Can standing desks in schools reduce Britain’s increasingly sedentary behaviour and help curb the country’s rising obesity epidemic?

That’s the question academics at Loughborough University are starting to answer through a new pilot study in Bradford.

The Stand Out in Class study, believed to be the first in the UK (and possibly Europe) to look at sit-to-stand desks in schools, introduced a bank of six specialist desks in a Year 5 classroom (ages 9-10) in January and is tracking pupils’ progress as they try to stand more in class.   

Recent studies have shown children in developed countries spend more than 65% of their waking hours sedentary (or sitting). This trend is worrying since lifestyle behaviours established in childhood typically track into adulthood.

By changing environments typically associated with prolonged periods of sitting, such as the classroom, researchers hope to affect a behaviour change in the younger generation.

In this study, children have daily access to the sit-to-stand desks and can choose how long they stand for each day.

Researchers are evaluating the impact of the desks on pupils’ sedentary behaviour, as well as exploring any health and learning outcomes. Initial results should be available this summer.

Lead researcher Dr Stacy Clemes from Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (SSEHS) said:

“Childhood obesity is on the rise in Britain, and we know much of this is linked to the large amounts of time our children spend sitting or inactive.

“But if we can encourage children to stand more in class, which may have learning as well as health benefits, we can change behaviours which we hope will continue into adulthood.”

The Stand Out in Class study is being led by Loughborough University in collaboration with colleagues from the Born in Bradford Study. The sit-to-stand desks have been supplied by Ergotron.

Watch coverage of the study from this morning’s BBC Breakfast.