Standing vs. Sitting—For Kids

Part 2: Standing helps kids in their academics

As we covered in Part 1 of this series, standing and moving more than sitting is as important for kids health as it is for adults. One of the many ways that standing and moving keeps kids healthy is by helping maintain alignment through the spine, which keeps movement flowing through the nervous system. As you might expect, this alignment can greatly benefit both cognitive and physical function in children, which helps them learn.

Research has shown that standing creates 12% more mental engagement in the classroom, which equates to more than an extra hour per day. Research has also shown that kids with ADHD cannot process information and learn without moving. What this means is that sitting still in the classroom is affecting our kids’ ability to learn.

In addition to mental engagement, standing and moving helps kids function physically in ways that help their academics. Some educators have noticed that kids have better handwriting when they stand, because their core muscles are more engaged. Proximal stability (core) creates more distal (hands) mobility. So, when the core muscles are engaged the hands and wrists are more flexible for movement through writing.

Unfortunately, kids are spending 6-7 hours a day in school, sitting much of the time. Plus, they spend time to and from school, meal times, homework and screen time. This can add up to approximately 85% of their time sitting per day. 41.7% of high schoolers report that they use computers three hours a day outside of school time for recreation. This is up from 31.1% in 2011. That is three additional hours of non-required sitting for these kids. It is also three hours less of potential physical activity.

As we talked about in the Standing vs Sitting series, standing burns up to 90 thousand more calories per year. This can make a huge difference in the physical wellness of our children. School time combined with the sitting recreation time is adding up to kids being overweight and even obese. In 10–17-year-olds, the combined childhood overweight and obesity rate is between approximately 20%–38% (NSCH 2016). This is way too high! And it is much higher than it was just a generation ago. If a simple change from sitting to standing can make such a big impact, it is worth giving it a try.

So if you have kiddos of your own, encourage them to spend more time standing and being active when they’re not at school. Go for more walks, spend time together outside, stand while you read a book—it will benefit the whole family!

As for encouraging more standing and movement in the classroom, stay tuned for Part 3 to hear our ideas and how we’ve begun to help the schools in our community.


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