We think better on our feet, literally

Apr 29, 2015

Credit: Texas A&M Health Science Center

By Science Daily

A study from the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health finds students with standing desks are more attentive than their seated counterparts. In fact, preliminary results show 12 percent greater on-task engagement in classrooms with standing desks, which equates to an extra seven minutes per hour of engaged instruction time.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, were based on a study of almost 300 children in second through fourth grade who were observed over the course of a school year. Engagement was measured by on-task behaviors such as answering a question, raising a hand or participating in active discussion and off-task behaviors like talking out of turn.

Standing desks — also known as stand-biased desks — are raised desks that have stools nearby, enabling students to sit or stand during class at their discretion. Mark Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health, who is an ergonomic engineer by trade, originally became interested in the desks as a means to reduce childhood obesity and relieve stress on spinal structures that may occur with traditional desks. Lessons learned from his research in this area led to creation of Stand2Learn™, an offshoot company of a faculty-led startup that manufactures a classroom version of the stand-biased desk.

Benden’s previous studies have shown the desks can help reduce obesity — with students at standing desks burning 15 percent more calories than students at traditional desks (25 percent for obese children) — and there was anecdotal evidence that the desks also increased engagement. The latest study was the first designed specifically to look at the impact of classroom engagement.


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12 comments on “We think better on our feet, literally

  • Some will tend to judge based on how they imagine the desk will feel, and how it would feel to them after a lifetime of sitting. I may take some getting used to.
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  • I think better pacing. I pace around constantly. I can walk for hours if something really gets me going. I’ve spent many nights circling around inside the house like that.
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  • I like to walk around my large garden in the open air when thinking through plans and problems. There are seats built into the terrace structure in some sunny corners for pauses and reflections, with trees providing areas of shade and protection from the wind when needed.
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  • 5
    brettcalgary says:

    Some of my smartest ideas come while standing in the shower. I’m not that smart but I’m slow, except for the shower, I pads and tablets a many Graveyard.
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  • I’m reminded of an anecdote told by an Englishman I heard years ago on a late night talk show. He recalled, “I was sitting on a newspaper in my seat on a crowded subway car when a gentleman across the aisle asked, ‘are you reading that paper?’ ‘ Yes,’ I answered. I stood up, turned a page and sat back down on it.”

    For some, relieving pressure on the butt is the same thing as relieving pressure on the brain.
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  • History records that Darwin did much thinking while walking the circuit around “the Sandwalk” at Down House.

    Darwin had a variety of trees planted, and ordered a gravel path known as the “sandwalk” to be created around the perimeter. Darwin’s daily walk of several circuits of this path served both for exercise and for uninterrupted thinking. He set up a number of small stones at one point on the walk so that he could kick a stone to the side each time he passed, so that he did not have to interrupt his thoughts by consciously counting the number of circuits he had made that day.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Down_House
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  • The boy in the photo has clamped his right hand hand around a primitive stick used by our ancestors for writing…Give me a minute. Yeh. It’s called a pencil. Really folks, don’t we do a lot of thinking at our computers using their applications, the worldwide web for information, spread sheets, calculators, spell check, word definition look-ups, and that electronic repository of human knowledge, WIKEPEDIA. I’m half kidding. Like most of you I do a lot of thinking walking around in the house, in the neighborhood, etc.. When the rubber hits the road I do my best coherent thinking after a good night’s sleep sitting in front of my computer. For the record I’ve never tried typing these comments standing up.
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  • I place a lot of store in the embodied nature of our cognition and thinking. Our languages are littered with the fruits of this. Things can be up-lifting and we suffer set-backs.

    I love walking. I take a camera. My mindset is that these excursions are explorations. I associate walking with finding things out and making discoveries. If I review the accounts I give of mankind learning, the images used are of adventures, explorations and journeys.

    Before writing, learning anything new nearly always involved a journey.
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  • Walking is fine, but both standing and sitting for long periods are likely to lead to the formation of varicose veins, as the blood tends to pool in the lower legs. A strenuous hill walk is not much good for thinking about unrelated problems as the brain’s time is consumed wondering which rock you can step on next ! (I am assuming uneven ground).
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