Reducing children’s classroom sitting time using sit-to-stand desks: findings from pilot studies in UK and Australian primary schools.

Publication authors

Clemes SA, Barber S, Bingham DD, Ridgers ND, Fletcher E, Pearson N, Salmon J, Dunstan DW.



This research examined the influence of sit-to-stand desks on classroom sitting time in primary school children.


Pilot controlled trials with similar intervention strategies were conducted in primary schools in Melbourne, Australia, and Bradford, UK. Sit-to-stand desks replaced all standard desks in the Australian intervention classroom. Six sit-to-stand desks replaced a bank of standard desks in the UK intervention classroom. Children were exposed to the sit-to-stand desks for 9-10 weeks. Control classrooms retained their normal seated desks. Classroom sitting time was measured at baseline and follow-up using the activPAL3 inclinometer.


Thirty UK and 44 Australian children provided valid activPAL data at baseline and follow-up. The proportion of time spent sitting in class decreased significantly at follow-up in both intervention groups (UK: -9.8 ± 16.5% [-52.4 ± 66.6 min/day]; Australian: -9.4 ± 10% [-43.7 ± 29.9 min/day]). No significant changes in classroom sitting time were observed in the UK control group, while a significant reduction was observed in the Australian control group (-5.9 ± 11.7% [-28.2 ± 28.3 min/day]).


Irrespective of implementation, incorporating sit-to-stand desks into classrooms appears to be an effective way of reducing classroom sitting in this diverse sample of children. Longer term efficacy trials are needed to determine effects on children’s health and learning.