Standing vs. Sitting—For Kids

Part 1: standing more than sitting is important for kids’ health

“Every single thing our bodies do requires movement—initiated by our musculoskeletal system—to be performed with ease. Digestion, immunity, reproduction—all of these functions require us to move. You can eat the perfect diet, sleep eight hours a night, and use only baking soda and vinegar to clean your house, but without the loads created by natural movement, all of these worthy efforts are thwarted on a cellular level, and your optimal wellness level remains elusive.” ― Katy Bowman, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement

Our bodies were designed for movement. From the time we’re born, our bodies are constantly adapting to become more efficient in their environment. What we spend time doing, our bodies learn. What we don’t use, we lose. Especially as children, when our bones and brains are growing at a rapid rate, we begin to create habits with our postures and activities. A posture that becomes efficient at sitting, is not going to be efficient at movement. As we covered in this past summer’s seven-part blog series on standing vs. sitting, spending too much time in a seated position can have all kinds of negative effects on our bodies. This goes for our kids too.

We have noticed that kids as young as seven, about halfway through the first grade, are beginning to show a decrease in the range of motion in the lumbar spine and hips. Even for active kids with very little screen time, it can be difficult to ensure enough movement during the school year. But so many hours of sitting in chairs can already damage body mechanics at a very young age.

Standing is the gateway to movement—that is why it is important to get the kids out of chairs and in an upright position as much as possible, so they can develop the correct postural and stability muscles to support them. Even allowing kids to sit on the floor, couch or chairs in a cross-legged position to open the hip joints is a better option. Kids (and grown-ups!) should avoid sitting with legs hanging as much as possible.

We’ll talk more in a future post about what classrooms can do to provide other options besides sitting. For now, just remember, get those kids up on their feet and moving around as much as possible! And stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of Standing vs. Sitting—For Kids!


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