The effects of sitting, dynamic sitting, and standing desks on classroom performance of university students

  • Siobhan Smith The Exercise and Health Psychology Laboratory, Western University
  • Harry Prapavessis The Exercise and Health Psychology Laboratory, Western University

Abstract

There are many health risks associated with prolonged sedentary time, but breaking up periods of sitting can reduce these risks (Healy, 2008). University students experience excessive sedentary time during class and while studying. Standing desks are an option to reduce sedentary time. It has been suggested that standing desks might hinder learning and productivity. Commissaris et al (2014) evaluated the effectiveness of a series of office tasks while individuals used various dynamic workstations. The results showed that the workstation used did not negatively affect performance in most tasks. However, tasks university students have to perform in their daily lives vary from office workers. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of sitting, dynamic sitting, and standing desks on classroom performance of university students. Based on a randomization sequence, 30 participants (N = 15, females, M age = 21.1) performed three 3-minute classroom simulations using a classic, dynamic sitting, and standing desk. Each simulation included a typing and memory task. Participants were asked to type the paragraph displayed as fast and as accurate as possible while paying attention to a video. Following the video, participants answered 3 multiple-choice questions to assess memory. Results showed no significant differences in typing speed and accuracy or memory (all p values > .05, partial ?2 effect size range .019-.045) between sitting, dynamic sitting, and standing desks. These findings need to be replicated over a longer period of time that simulates a university classroom-learning environment.