Children spend between 50-70% of their time sitting while at school. Independent of physical activity levels, prolonged sitting is associated with poor health outcomes in adulthood. While there is mixed evidence of health associations among children and adolescents, public health guidelines in the USA, UK, Australia and Canada now recommend young people should break up long periods of sitting as frequently as possible. A potentially effective approach for reducing and breaking up sitting throughout the day is changing the classroom environment.
This paper presents an overview of a relatively new area of standing desk research designed to reduce youth sitting time while at school by changing the classroom environment (n = 13 studies). Environmental changes included placement of height-adjustable or stand-biased standing desks/workstations with stools, chairs, exercise balls, bean bags or mats in the classroom. These changes will create an environment of standing classrooms in schools.
These 13 published studies suggest that irrespective of the approach, youth sitting time was reduced by between *44 and 60 min/day and standing time was increased by between 18 and 55 min/day during classroom time at school. Other beneﬁts include increased energy expenditure and the potential for improved management of students’ behavior in the classroom. However, few large trials have been conducted, and there remains little evidence regarding the impact on children’s learning and academic achievement. Nevertheless, with an increasing demand placed on schools and teachers regarding students’ learning outcomes, strategies that integrate moving throughout the school day and that potentially enhance the learning experience and future health outcomes for young people warrant further exploration.