According to a study from multiple schools in Texas—and other reports from around the country—kids burn more calories and exhibit greater attention spans when given the opportunity to stand during class time. The popularity among adults has been steadily growing for standing desks and this new evidence shows that the benefits are just as notable for children. It makes sense that the same health and productivity gains would apply to all ages and this is surely a compelling case to get more standing desk options in classrooms.
Improved Productivity and Health Benefits for Children
The recent study by the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education found that students using standing desks stayed on task 12% better than their sitting classmates. That’s equivalent to gaining seven additional minutes per hour of productivity. Students at standing desks were better at answering questions, raising their hands and participating in discussion. With increased student engagement, teachers are better able to manage the class and stay on task, which has a great effect on student outcomes.
The health benefits for students at standing desks are equally notable. Students at standing desks burn 300 more calories per week than their seated peers. And the results are even more pronounced with overweight students; who burned approximately 575 calories per week. Some classrooms are even taking it a step further with stationary bicycle reading desks. The bikes help kids who might be inclined to fidget and move around during reading time pay more attention to the task at hand. Students and teachers are reporting better concentration and improved literacy levels and concentration.
The study also found that younger students were more inclined to stand at desks than older students; perhaps indicating that our preferred desk habits are developed early on. If this is the case, then equipping students with standing desks from an early age could influence healthier habits throughout their life and potentially curb obesity. It could just be that younger students prefer the standing desks because they don’t constrain as much children’s natural physicality, which tends to lessen as we get older. Regardless, it seems that a learning environment where children pay better attention and burn 15% more calories is a good thing.
Standing Options in the Classroom Combat Obesity and Increase Attention
The researchers from the study put it best: “The results of this study and previous pilot studies have established that activity-permissive classrooms do not cause harm to students; result in increased energy expenditure that may combat obesity among those in the highest risk categories; and improve behavioral engagement…If this environmental change improves both health and academic outcomes, this should serve as an incentive for schools to invest in altering their standard for classroom furniture to stand-biased modifications.”