2. Impacts of a Standing Desk Intervention within an English Primary School Classroom: A Pilot Controlled Trial

Publication authors

Aron P. Sherry, Natalie Pearson, Nicola D. Ridgers, William Johnson, Sally E. Barber, Daniel D. Bingham, Liana C. Nagy and Stacy A. Clemes


Traditional classroom furniture dictates that children predominantly sit during class time. This study evaluated the impact of providing standing desks within a deprived UK primary school setting over 8 months using mixed-method approaches. All children within a Year 5 class (9–10-year-olds, n = 30) received an adjustable sit–stand desk, while another Year 5 class (n = 30) in a nearby school retained traditional furniture as a control classroom. At baseline, 4 months, and 8 months, activPAL monitors (PAL Technologies, Glasgow, UK) were worn for 7 days to provide time spent sitting and standing. Behavior-related mental health, musculoskeletal discomfort surveys, and a cognitive function test battery were also completed at all three timepoints. Intervention experiences from pupils and the teacher were captured using focus groups, interviews, and classroom observations. At both 4 months and 8 months, multi-level models revealed a reduction in class time sitting in the intervention group compared to the control group ((β (95%CI) 4 months −25.3% (−32.3, −18.4); 8 months −19.9% (−27.05, −12.9)). Qualitative data revealed challenges to teaching practicalities and a gradual decline in behavior-related mental health was observed (intervention vs. control: 4 months +5.31 (+2.55, +8.08); 8 months +7.92 (+5.18, +10.66)). Larger trials within similar high-priority settings are required to determine the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of providing standing desks to every child in the classroom.