Think on your feet

What do you stand for? Maybe there are things or people that you just can’t stand! We become pretty passionate when we start talking about standing but, as soon as something important needs to be done, we sit down. “Let’s sit down and have a chat”, “I think I need to sit down and think about that” or, for a important meeting, “Come in, take a seat”: these are all common phrases and practices. Despite being fired up about standing, we seem to think that only sitting provides the proper forum for thinking but, as a new study has shown, we may have that completely wrong.

This study involved 300 children across 2nd to 4th class, so of ages around seven to 10. In the classrooms of the children, they all had access to “standing desks”: raised desks with stools nearby so that the child can either sit or stand during class. The children were observed across the course of a school year and their engagement on tasks was measured by whether they answered a question, raised their hand or participated in active discussion, or became involved in off-task behaviours like talking out of turn.

The behavioural results were correlated with whether the children were standing or sitting during the classes.

The results showed that when children were standing they were on average 12 per cent more engaged on task than when they were sitting and this translated to around an extra seven minutes per hour of instruction time.

On top of this, previous studies in both children and adults have shown that standing leads to loss of kilos. This, however, is the first study to show that standing is definitely linked to greater engagement with, and attention to, tasks.

It seems that we really do think on our feet (is there really any such thing as a linguistic accident?) and schools and businesses everywhere would do well to consider having workstations that offer the standing option. If your boss does suggest a change to your work environment, you might do well to think twice before you say that you won’t stand for it.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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