Sitting is very unhealthy. A new study shows that first graders who have standing desks in school burn more calories, particularly the heavier kids, compared to standard sitting desks:
Students in the treatment group burned 17% more calories than did those in the control group… Within the subset of participants over the 85th percentile in weight … experienced a 32% increase in calorie expenditure
This is an example of increasing energy expenditure during everyday activity. Notice – no gym involved! And even though kids had the option of sitting, too, they usually stood:
…our study investigated children’s standing activity after giving them no specific instruction that they must stand or sit for any portion of their day.
By the 12th week of school after the treatment, students had acclimated to their desks; 70% of the students were not using stools at all, standing 100% of the time at their primary homeroom workstation, and the other 30% were standing, on average, approximately 75% of the time.
The standing desks may also improve kids’ performance in school. This is not surprising, since exercise has been shown repeatedly to improve brain structure and cognitive function. The researchers studying the first graders noted:
The majority of parents (70%) whose children were in the treatment classrooms felt that standing in the classroom positively affected their child’s classroom behavior. A teacher in one of the treatment classrooms stated:
“When standing, the students were more focused, and I could keep their attention for longer… . I have one student with severe ADHD [attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder], and this really helped him academically.”