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Should we use standing desks in elementary schools? Experts weigh in
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Sitting all day is bad for kids, too but are standing desks the best solution to the prolonged sitting problem? - photo by Nathan Sorensen
In recent years, more and more people are saying they can't stand sitting.

As reported by The New York Times, many studies have explored the effects of a sedentary lifestyle on adults. But very few studies have focused on the effects of prolonged sitting on children until now. A study published this month in Experimental Physiology asked girls between the ages of 9 and 12 to sit still for several hours in order to examine the effects.

"After the girls had reclined for three uninterrupted hours, their arteries no longer functioned as well as they had at the start," the Times reported.

If the study is any indication, the "sedentary" lifestyle of sitting for long periods of times is not only unhealthy for employees in an office, but also for children.

Some experts suggest that a national focus on test results and academic rigor has pushed younger and younger children off the playground and into neatly lined desks.

But the Washington Post reported that young children gain few advantages from sitting still and listening to a lecture. "Preschool years are not only optimal for children to learn through play, but also a critical developmental period. If children are not given enough natural movement and play experiences, they start their academic careers with a disadvantage."

In response to the increased sitting time of school-age students, one organization, called Stand Up Kids, is looking to put standing desks in every public school in America in 10 years.

According to the Stand Up Kids mission statement, "Standing desks are a simple and elegant way to create a movement rich environment where children are more engaged and perform better academically, burn more calories, eliminate or minimize orthopedic problems and disease, feel happier, and just plain move more."

Though there are several teachers who prefer a standing desk environment in their classroom, there also may be some caveats.

According to Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environment Analysis at Cornell University, standing all day isn't necessarily the best solution, and sitting isn't all bad, U.S. News and World Report reported.

"If what youre doing is replacing sitting with standing, youre not actually doing your body any favors, he told the magazine. In fact, youre introducing a whole variety of new risk factors."

The report noted five mistakes people make with standing desks, including using it for activities better suited for sitting and putting calorie counting ahead of productivity or efficiency.

For some teachers though, the answer lies simply in letting kids choose for themselves.

As reported by the National Education Association, Gwyn Ann Raczkowski, a Brittin Elementary School teacher in Fort Stewart, Georgia, lets her students choose how they'd like to learn. "Kids hate sitting all day, and I do also, so the idea came to me that if they can make a responsible choice and get their work done, it doesnt matter if its at a desk, on a stool, or cross-legged on the floor with a clipboard, she said.

"Since then, Raczkowski has embraced a 'whatever works' approach with her students: She uses stability balls, sitting on the floor, and a variety of other tools and activities to help her students stay active and focused," the NEA reported.
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