Current Students and Staff

// University News

17 Jul 2015

Loughborough study reveals standing desks in schools could help tackle sedentary behaviour

An example of the Ergotron LearnFit™ Adjustable Standing Desk used in the Melbourne study. Image: ©2015 Ergotron, Inc.

How best to combat sedentary behaviour (prolonged sitting) in primary schools and encourage children to become more active has formed the basis of two new pilot studies in the UK and Australia.

Led by researchers at Loughborough University, in partnership with the Bradford Institute for Health Research (BIHR), the Stand Out in Class study introduced a bank of six specialist Ergotron sit-to-stand desks in Year 5 classrooms (ages 9-10) in Bradford – a city with high levels of deprivation and childhood morbidity.  Findings of this study were compared to a similar study conducted in Melbourne, Australia, where all standard desks in Year 6 classrooms (ages 11-12) were replaced with sit-to-stand desks.

Lifestyle health-related behaviours in childhood typically track into adulthood. But by changing environments associated with prolonged periods of sitting, such as the classroom, researchers believe sit-to-stand desks have the potential to change behaviour in younger generations.

The Stand Out in Class findings showed that it may not be necessary to replace all standard desks with sit-to-stand desks. For example, in the Bradford study, over a nine-week period, 27 pupils were exposed to the sit-to-stand desks once a day for at least one hour, resulting in a reduction in their classroom sitting time of 52 minutes a day on average. The pupils’ step count also increased significantly.

In comparison, in the Melbourne study, over a 10-week period, 26 pupils were exposed to sit-to-stand desks for the entire duration, and were initially encouraged to stand for at least one 30-minute class per day and to increase this gradually over the weeks. As a result, the pupils’ classroom sitting time reduced by 44 minutes a day, but there was no change recorded in their step count.

These findings could be attributed to the fact that the Bradford children had to move around the classroom more in order to use the six specialist desks. This desk rotation exercise appears to encourage more movement in class and suggests that by introducing a limited number of sit-to-stand desks in the classroom, this could help increase children’s in-class activity levels.

Read the full press release for more information.