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  • Study: To Help Reduce Sedentary Behavior in Schools, Students Need to Think on Their Feet

    What's good for the office may be good for the classroom, according to some researchers who think the standing desk trend should be extended to schools as a way to help reduce obesity and improve overall health among children.

    A team of researchers published a systematic review in Pediatrics [log-in may be required] examining the effects of standing desks on students’ sedentary behavior, physical activity level, health outcomes, and academic outcomes. After analyzing the results of 8 studies conducted in elementary school settings, they found that the decreased sitting time, besides doing the obvious good, may also have a null effect on learning. "In essence, it can be hypothesized that students could effectively learn while simultaneously reducing the high volumes of sedentary time accumulated through passive and static sitting in the classroom," authors write.

    The effects on actual physical activity were mixed, with some studies finding no change and others reporting an increase in activity. The evidence on caloric expenditure and BMI was inconclusive.

    Authors write that the reduced sitting and increased standing times suggest that standing desks could serve as one tool in the fight against childhood obesity. Citing one study’s results of children burning an extra 32 calories per hour, authors estimate that standing desks could lead to a net reduction of 12 pounds per year in weight gain.

    Interestingly, some studies that measured neck, back, and/or joint pain showed increase in pain for children using standing desks. Future research, the authors urge, should consider “the frequency of sit-to-stand transitions, how to stand (eg, shifting weight from one foot to the other), and having a resting bar or pendulum for the foot.” Also needed are studies with larger sample sizes and higher-quality methodology.

    Even with its limitations, the review lends support to the view that environmental interventions can be as beneficial to health promotion as education on healthy eating and increased physical activity.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over one third of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese, placing them at higher risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems, and a host of other health problems.

    APTA is a strong advocate in the battle against obesity, and offers extensive resources on the PT's role in prevention and wellness, as well as on behavior change in the patient and client.

    Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association's PTNow website.


    • The idiocy of some of these studies never ceases to amaze me. These researchers would probably suggest draining a pool to help a drowning person. I just hope our tax dollars weren't used to fund this study (but they probably were).

      Posted by Brian Miller on 3/11/2016 8:23 PM

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