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Funding boost sees more sit-to-stand desks installed in schools

A study exploring the feasibility of introducing sit-to-stand desks into primary schools has been given a £413K funding boost.

The Stand Out in Class project, funded by the National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme (NIHR PHR), will see Year 5 pupils in four Bradford primary schools trial sit-to-stand desks in a bid to better understand how these desks could one day feature in every UK classroom.

A recent study found primary school children in Bradford sit for approximately 10 hours per day, and spend 70% of their time in class sitting down. Evidence shows children who sit for long periods are likely to become adults who sit for long periods, with prolonged sitting increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

The study is being led by Loughborough University scientists in partnership with scientists from the Born in Bradford study at the Bradford Institute for Health Research and builds on two previous studies in the city. In total, eight Bradford schools are taking part.

Researchers will measure children’s sitting, standing and walking time, general health, memory and learning, academic progress and classroom behaviour to gain a fuller understanding of the outcomes of using sit-to-stand desks.

The joint project leader Dr Stacy Clemes from Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, said:

“Advances in technology and changes to our lifestyles mean we now spend most of our waking hours sitting. We know this behaviour has damaging health consequences and so it’s vital we find a way of reducing our day-to-day sitting time.

“Our earlier research shows desks that enable pupils to switch between sitting and standing in the classroom are effective in reducing school day sitting time in the short term. We are now looking at how feasible it is to use these desks over a longer period and we’ll be measuring the results.”

The sit-to-stand desks used in this research have been donated by US-based company Ergotron. Carrie Schmitz, Ergotron Research Manager, said:

“We endeavour to create environments where children can grow and prosper for the sake of the community at large. Data collected from on-the-ground research projects like the Stand Out in Class study help shape classroom furniture design that will optimally support student health and performance for years to come.”  

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