Standing vs Sitting: Where Do You Stand?
Over the years there has been an increase in demand for sit/standing desks within the office environment. There have been several studies that have shown the advantages that can been gained through having height adjustable desks to work at. Eyes have recently fallen onto the education sector, wanting the younger generation to gain the same benefits. Are height adjustable desks in the classroom, something that we should even start considering though? We’ve read the research so you don’t have to and here’s what we found out…
The advantages of height adjustable desks in classrooms
Not a lot can be done for pupils being seated when travelling to school and during their lunch breaks. However, with height adjustable desks, you are able to create time where the pupils are able to stand during class, gaining health benefits.
“The idea that standing is better for heart health was first proposed in 1953”
Recent research has found that standing has valuable health benefits in comparison to having a sedentary routine. The main ones are related to the decrease in heart disease and diabetes. Scientists have found that prolonged seating time can “increase the risk of heart disease by an estimated 147%” as reported by Authority Nutrition.
“The harmful effects of sitting after meals could help explain why excessive sedentary time is linked to a 112% greater risk of type 2 diabetes.”
The same report also points out how beneficial ergonomic desks are in relation to decreasing the risk of diabetes. Keen to gather results, researchers have compared employees’ routines at work, finding the following:
“Standing for 180 minutes after lunch reduced the blood sugar spike by 43% compared to sitting for the same amount of time.”
Smithsonian.com has backed this result, explaining that a 2008 study revealed that “people who sat for longer periods during their day had significantly higher levels of fasting blood glucose”. These findings express that their cells “become less responsive to insulin”, which increases the chance of type 2 diabetes. Would it be the same for our younger generation in schools?
In addition to the health benefits that can be gained, height adjustable desks will also give pupils the ability to “move without being distracted”. As JustStand.org has explained: “Kids are meant to move”, so they are less likely to fidget or get agitated whilst stood at a height adjustable desk. This will allow them to concentrate fully, achieving their best results.
The disadvantages of height adjustable desks in classrooms
Of course with every argument, there has to be two sides of the story. With the advantages of having sit/ stand desks in school, naturally comes disadvantages… Life is, after all, about finding a balance!
“Everyone can see you.”
One of the first problems that we came across when looking into all this was that when stood up, you’re suddenly “standing out” compared to your fellow classmates if they are all sat down. This will become problematic for pupils who may feel uncomfortable being the centre of attention.
Another problem that might arise may be if someone sat in front of you wants to stand up. This will create a problem for the pupils who wish to remain seated behind them, as they will not be able to see the front of the class.
From a health perspective, Notsitting.com has mentioned that reports have indicated that “standing for too long increases the chance of developing varicose veins”. However, it is worth noting that the height adjustable desk will allow pupils to sit and stand in moderation. Something definitely worth taking into account!
Arguably the main disadvantage would be the cost of the desks. Ergonomic desks unfortunately, come at an expense. With budgets already tight and squeezed, it is difficult for schools to be able to afford them for their classrooms. This might be due to the concept being a relatively recent one and still a novelty. You never know, the price may become more reasonable over time!
Current ongoing studies within schools across the globe, are assessing whether height adjustable desks within classrooms may be the way forward. It is difficult to disagree with the facts and figures that have been found in office environments, but will it be the same for school pupils? I guess this remains to be seen. Sit on your hands or stand on ceremony? Tell us what you think in the comments below!
Centre: UTS Library