A recent New York Times story discusses how bad sitting all day at a desk can be for people and the trend toward active work stations, such as a desk that raises and lowers and desks on top of slowly-moving tread mill, to combat this problem. So I’m wondering if active workstations are better for adults wouldn’t they be better for children too.
“But a closer look at the accumulating research on sitting reveals something more intriguing, and disturbing: the health hazards of sitting for long stretches are significant even for people who are quite active when they’re not sitting down. That point was reiterated recently in two studies, published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine and in Diabetologia, a journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. “
“Suppose you stick to a five-times-a-week gym regimen, as I do, and have put in a lifetime of hard cardio exercise, and have a resting heart rate that’s a significant fraction below the norm. That doesn’t inoculate you, apparently, from the perils of sitting. “
“The research comes more from observing the health results of people’s behavior than from discovering the biological and genetic triggers that may be associated with extended sitting. Still, scientists have determined that after an hour or more of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in the body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting, they add, slows the body’s metabolism of glucose and lowers the levels of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood. Those are risk factors toward developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.”
The article discusses the growth of workstations that raise and lower so you could stand to work. It also looks at workstations that fit over the top of treadmills so people can walk very slowly while they work. The photo in the article shows a woman working on a recumbent bike.
“The company offered its first models of height-adjustable desks in 2004. In the last five years, sales of its lines of adjustable desks and the treadmill desk have surged fivefold, to more than $40 million. Its models for stand-up work range from about $1,600 to more than $4,000 for a desk that includes an actual treadmill. Corporate customers include Chevron, Intel, Allstate, Boeing, Apple and Google.”
So if adults get to stand up and move around as they sense they need it to work more effectively and studies are finding that sitting is bad for humans, then why do we ask our school children to sit for hours on end?
One first grade teacher I know would let kids who needed to stand or wiggle be in the back and on the edges of the room so they could do that without disturbing others. Another gifted teacher we had in Gwinnett was great about letting kids work in their own styles. So and so needed to be under a desk to study, then go for it. Another child would finish and liked to peruse books while she was thinking, so the teacher put her by the bookshelves instead of away from it. The child could peruse and think and get back to business. I think she was really enlightened.
The gifted teacher at our current school says she will let kids sit on a yoga ball in class. It helps them get out energy and develops postural control and helps keep kids awake. Occupational therapists recommend it. She also will hand out squish balls to help with excess energy.
I have a friend who is offended by this. She says kids need to learn to sit. She says her own daughter likes to stand to study but she tells her to sit. I told her to let her stand.
I truly believe everyone has different work styles and ways to remember things and you have to help your kids figure out what helps them learn and think best.
Do you think adults and kids just need to sit at their desks? Do you think adults and kids could benefit from alternative workstations? Do you think kids should be allowed to stand or walk the room at appropriate times (not during a test or lecture) if they needed to? What about yoga balls to sit on in a classroom or a recumbent bike? I bet that would be a popular treat to get to sit on the bike in the classroom!