Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Should Schools Use Standing Desks?

"Don't smoke, and stay in school!" Sounds a lot like the advice every superhero that's ever existed has given to kids at some point or another. So why then, if "sitting is the new smoking," are schoolchildren all over America compelled to sit for up to 8 hours a day? In today's article, we explore this question and more, offering potential solutions to keep kids fit and focused in school by letting them stand up for their health - literally!

Health Versus Habit



According to data gathered by JustStand.org, the American Cancer Society has found that 48% of men and 94% of women who sat for more than 6 hours a day have a greater premature mortality rate than people who chronically stand. Mayo Clinic has also found that between 50-70% of Americans spend exactly that amount of time sitting on average, what with the amount of time driving, eating, and watching TV take up. Add in all this data to the lifestyle of a student, who must sit for virtually the entire day, except for the 5-minute walk between classes, and it's no wonder childhood obesity and poor health are skyrocketing.

Meanwhile, the benefits to be gained from standing are great! Not only is the human body better designed for standing up than sitting, but standing also promotes better health benefits. Smithsonian magazine has reported reduced risk of cancer, premature death, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes as the benefits of simply standing rather than sitting.

The Proposition



Given this information, one could easily see the benefits standing desks have to offer schools. Of course, with the funding schools receive, the prospect of displacing the traditional seated desk may seem daunting. However, there are plenty of small adjustable student desks out there to meet the demand. Office furniture brands like Mayline have already produced a number of viable alternatives to seated student desks, such as the affordable 945 Eastwinds mobile computer desk for sale. Many online furniture dealers offer bulk discounts in addition to the low prices, to help offset the expense of providing enough desks for a growing student body.

Practicality


Of course, changing the landscape of a classroom from seated to standing will undoubtedly bring with it some unforeseen consequences. For teachers, there is much to be gained! In elementary classrooms, ergonomic standing desks provide young children the opportunity to unleash some of their pent-up energy, as the act of standing burns more calories than sitting down. Anxious kindergartners might be allowed to do a few quick jumping jacks or stamp their feet when feeling restless, and because everyone is standing anyway, a little extra movement won't be nearly as distracting.

In upper grades, lethargic teenagers will benefit from an energy boost. Rather than feeling inclined to nap on a desktop, as hours and hours of continuous sitting often encourages, the energy and awareness required by standing encourages better focus. Plus, it's harder to hide texting and falling asleep from a standing position...

Downsides




Unfortunately, too much standing can be just as tiring as never standing at all. And there are a few downsides to a standing lifestyle - the first and foremost being that too much standing can contribute other health problems. Even though experts agree standing reduces the risk for metabolic issues and improves digestion, standing all day can cause physical strain. Too many hours of standing causes soreness in the feet and legs. It has also been known to contribute to circulatory problems, since blood flowing down to the legs has to pump harder to get back to the heart. And on a financial note, schools offering height adjustable desks would also have to offer additional student seating, so kids could take seated breaks to prevent these negative health conditions.

Overall


However, the downsides caused from the prospect of too much standing are easily overcome by well-planned, seated breaks. Offering students the opportunity to sit down for 15-30 minutes or so can take the risk of tiring out of the mix. In the end, standing desks have so much more to contribute on the good side of things than the bad. By offering sit to stand desks and workstations for students, schools could make a critical impact on the health of their student body. Not only would kids experience better metabolic health, better digestion, and excess weight loss as a result of standing, but they could also experience improved focus and energy. Talk about a good lesson learned!

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