Pupils at a Bradford primary school are taking part in an innovative study aimed at improving their health by standing up at their desks rather than sitting down all day.
And the children say that after a few weeks they can already see the benefits. The trial, thought to be the first of its kind in Europe, is part of the Born in Bradford project and has seen a classroom at Grove House Primary School in Bolton fitted with special sit-stand adjustable desks.
For a portion of the day the nine and ten year-old pupils will take it in turns to use the special desks. Two different classes are taking part – in one the children can chose whether to sit or stand at the desks while working while in the other those using the desks stand the whole time. The class teacher will also have a height-adjustable desk, and incorporate a two-minute active break into their lessons every 30 minutes.
Dr Sally Barber, of the Born in Bradford research programme, said children were becoming less active and spending long periods of time sitting, particularly in the classroom.
She said: “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 Stand out in Class study aims to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of using height adjustable desks, also known as sit and stand workstations, to reduce the time children aged nine to ten 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.”
The two Year 5 classes at the school will use the desks for a term each and will be tracked over that time. Assessments will be made of both the children and teacher’s daily physical activity and sitting and standing time, height, weight, body mass index, waist circumference, blood pressure and resting heart rate, motor skills and social, emotional and behavioural health.
Teacher Hannah Rogers said pupils had so far been very positive about the changes. She added: “I think it makes me more aware, and the children seem to work harder when they stand up.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing the outcomes in the next few weeks. We’ve given the children the option of sitting down if they get tired but so far no-one has backed down.”
Abigail Tempest is one of the pupils who has been using the desks. She said: “We all enjoy it. We work a lot more when we stand.”
Other pupils said they felt healthier, made lessons more interesting and one even said it had improved his handwriting.
The Born in Bradford project began in 2007 and aims to track the lives of 13,500 babies and their families in order to find out more about the causes of childhood illness.