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Stand out in Class!

May 7, 2014

Sedentary behaviour (sitting or reclining) has been shown to adversely affect children's health, independent of the amount of physical activity that they do. Prolonged sedentary behaviour in children is associated with obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor glucose control, lower fitness, poorer cognitive development and poorer academic achievement. Changes in our environment and lifestyle have resulted in children not only becoming less active, but also spending unnecessarily long periods of time sitting, particularly in the classroom. A recent study of 6497 UK 7-8 years olds has shown that >50% of this sample were sedentary for >6.4 hours/day. Sedentary behaviour is the most prevalent behaviour exhibited by children in developed countries, comprising >65% of waking hours. The impact of unhealthy lifestyle behaviours, such as prolonged sitting, on children’s health and development is concerning given the importance of childhood for the establishment of lifestyle behaviours that can track into adulthood. The long term vision of this research is to re-address the balance between sedentary and non-sedentary (i.e. standing and all forms of physical activity) behaviours by changing environments which are traditionally associated with prolonged periods of sedentary behaviour, such as the school classroom.

The Stand out in Class study aims to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of using height adjustable desks, also known as sit/stand workstations, to reduce the time children aged 9-10 years old (Year 5) spend sitting on an average school day. We are also assessing the impact of using the desks upon children’s general health, well-being and learning.

One primary school in Bradford with a 2 year 5 classes has agreed to take part in this randomised cross-over pilot trial. The classes will be randomised to either use the height adjustable desks for one school term (intervention) followed by using their usual desks for one term (control) or use their usual desks for one term (control) followed by using the height adjustable desks for one term (intervention). The intervention term for both classes will consist of having six height adjustable desks installed in the classroom, children in the class will rotate around to use the desks and every child will be allocated to the desk for approximately the same amount of time each week. The desks can easily be adjusted and the children can chose to sit or stand whilst completing their work. A height adjustable desk will also be provided for the teacher. In addition to the height adjustable desks, teachers will be encouraged to incorporate a two minute active break every 30 minutes; teachers will be provided with a booklet of active break ideas.

Before the classes are randomised, and then at the end of each of the two school terms the following will be assessed: The children and teacher's daily physical activity and sitting and standing time, height, weight, BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure and resting heart rate, children's fine motor skills and social, emotional and behavioural health. The children and teachers will also complete a semi-structured interview about the acceptability of the intervention.

View the BBC article here.

View an article from the Telegraph and Argus here

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