As my own anecdotal experience tells me (as a big advocate for taking our children hiking in the local woodlands.) Research has now been able to demonstrate a scientific link between being out and about in nature and feeling good.
A study released on Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology researchers studied the direct link between a group of kids “connectedness to nature” and their sustainable behaviours and happiness.
The study asked 300 children to fill in a questionnaire about how they perceive nature from how they feel when they see wild animals to the joy of smelling flowers and hearing birdsong. The children who measured as having good connection to nature also showed some other interesting results.
Connected to nature is defined by the researchers as;
"Thinking and feeling emotionally connected with all the elements of the natural environment, with feeling happier as a consequence."
The kids who scored higher on nature connection also were more likely to engage in altruism, help people, care for the environment, recycle, save water and perhaps more interestingly they were more likely to state they believed in equality between race, sex and financial standing.
The same children scored higher on the happiness scale.
As a parent who recently paid for his son to attend a weekly gardening club whose toddler also goes to forest school. I’m, feeling pretty validated. I know getting your hands dirty and understanding your environment is a big part of what made my childhood fun. But above happiness it seems according to the researchers they believe we owe it to the planet to ensure that the future custodians of our environment learn to love it and develop their other altruistic tendencies in the process.
"They are future consumers of products, entrepreneurs, decision-makers, workers, and depending on the environmental education received, their connection with nature, environmental awareness and environmental values are the future of the environment, too," said Dr. Laura Barrera-Hernández, author of the study.
With the ever growing trend of forest and beach schools gaining momentum it makes sense to give children the benefit of the outdoors when their online role models are influencing them to sit down and watch video games, streamers and YouTube for hours on end.
Allowing kids to exist outdoors whatever the weather is culturally embedded in the Finnish education system we recently wrote about where kids get regular exercise and outdoor time during the school day to encourage their development and morale.
So why would we suggest going outside when we are retailing standing desks? Well two reasons.
The first being that using our classroom friendly Eiger standing desks means groups of kids can easily be taken outside if it’s a nice day as the desks are extremely portable and can be disassembled, moved and re-assembled in a matter of minutes. Many of our clients are schools who do this regularly to give their kids some much needed outdoor time.
We wrote recently how one in eight kids don’t even play outside.
A 2015 study also showed adults benefit from being outside and report less negative thoughts and general increase in mental health. So the same applies to office workers who might want to take their laptop to the local park with our outdoor Eiger carry bags this outdoor office can be achieved in a matter of minutes.
Secondly standing desks are part of our prescription for a holistic approach to good physical wellbeing and overall mental health. They are not a cure-all. They can be and should be used as part of a healthy lifestyle shift. Using a standing desk all day and not moving when doing so is fundamentally not much better than sitting extensively.
Using a standing desk to encourage movement is the optimal way to benefit from having one. So taking regular movement breaks to get a glass of water of walking to the loo a little farther away are all great habits to get into when standing at work or school to increase the micro movements needed to burn calories and release physical tensions.
The need for mobility is one of the reasons we have leaned towards portable designs in our desks. Stationary desk users are less likely to more and improve their physical literacy.
So what’s the main take away here?
• Whether child or adult, there’s now a scientifically proven benefit to getting outside into nature.
• Kids who engage with nature basically become better, nicer and happier people.
• Standing desks can be a great way to get your classroom outside and still learning.
• Standing desks are part of the solution and should be used in conjunction with cultural and behavioural changes that see you using your body more and being more mindful to truly get the most out of the standing desk movement.
Trick Your Sleepy Brain
Have you ever laid in bed with the unshakeable feeling that you want to go to sleep but just can't slip away into slumber? I know from experience this can drag on for hours. A little shift in perspective can make all the difference. How you look at your given state can help trick your mind into fully relaxing.
So what’s the shift in perspective here? Well tell yourself that it's morning time. The mind-set you have towards being in bed in the morning for most people is that it’s the comfiest place in the world and you don’t ever want to leave. This is certainly why it’s so hard to get our engines going in my household every 7am.
So when I find it hard to sleep I tell myself that it’s first thing in the morning and that I don't have to get up. I roll over and I drift away happily under the brief suspended reality I have created for myself.
This is the same suspended reality that can keep Wylie Coyote suspended in mid-air for all those moments before he finally looks down over the cavern he has sped into and plummets.
There’s a power to how we frame things. My children don’t try and eat vegetables they aim to get as many colours on their plate as possible. I don't go on a diet. I adopt a lifestyle change….and when kid’s need a bit of encouragement to move more or eat less how we frame these experiences stands for everything.
My 5 year old gets nearly his recommended dose of daily exercise in one after-school class. A class that had they framed it in the traditional way would have no doubt lost his interest months ago like Rugby Tots did after two sessions before it was tears and pleas to go home on a Saturday morning. So every Tuesday instead of attending mixed Martial Arts, we head on over to Ninja School. Not before the boy tells every school friend and their parents on the way out of school that he is on his way to ninja school and that he is a real ninja.
One ninja t-shirt and the persistent sticking to the Ninja School alibi from every Sensei means that the kids not only all -in emotionally but they get active and even spend the extra five minutes listening to a ninja lesson where they might learn about the benefit of eating their Veg to be fast and powerful ninjas or the importance of respect along with other life lessons. Which of course they listen to because it's from someone other than their parents.
Instead of drifting off mid talk they actively participate. They contribute ideas and they listen. Whilst the mantra they shout every lesson also suggests. They "will do their best!" ...to become better ninjas of course.
Now this is not lying to kids. The instructor’s and savvy parents alike all go with the verbiage and play along to the benefit of their kid’s enthusiasm for that much needed dose of exercise and enrichment. How it's shaped is simply the difference. How the kids perceive the class and themselves within it.
Dancing & The NSPCC Pants Song
Our house includes daily bouts of dancing for fun and exercise. Even our 2 year old demands his favourite songs and shouts the request to our Alexa device which is smart enabled to play any song on demand. One play of the song "Kung Fu Fighting" and both the boys are diving about the kitchen with arms and legs flailing with wild abandon. The same device plays the "Pants Song" when we want to learn about the pants rule.
This is another fine example of how we frame things. We are able to kick start the NSPCC skill on the Alexa device and either work through the pants quiz which lets kids know it’s okay to say No and to respect theirs and other people private parts. The song sings of Pantasaurus who gets his power from wearing pants and how its okay to say no if someone makes you uncomfortable. Whilst this might seem like a world gone mad to some people in reality by framing a very taboo subject in a kid friendly language the removal of stigma means important conversations can be had in our household and important lessons learned from an early age when kids are most vulnerable.
Here is the pants skill if you want to install it on your Alexa or other device and the pants song because it's catchy as hell.
King For A Lesson
Kids at school might need a little encouragement to adopt healthier choices, but as above how we frame these scenarios go a lot towards how children respond to them. Is it cool to sit or to stand? If your participate at school are you a "swot" or a "clever clogs" or perceived as simply "clever" by your peers.
Schools that adopt our standing desks find the children who use them improve their productivity. They participate more, are less disruptive and the quality of their work output improves. Statistically they even score higher on academic tests. Does the standing desk change the child’s perspective in the very moment we want them to be as engaged as possible?
There have been many psychological studies which find that room layouts and chair placements effect people’s behaviour. For instance if you sit in the middle chair of a talking semi-circle you are most likely to adopt the role of leader in the dynamic. Now people are physically looking towards you for leadership but should that mean someone more likely in their personality wouldn't outshine you and step up to the plate. Well the data suggests that you will lead the group. Wall flowers can use this to force themselves to participate.
Studies have shown how important mind-set is to the classroom. A mind-set that one will aim to master a subject is more useful than a natural aptitude to accomplish the same thing. Like my old guitar teacher said. "There are those who can play this naturally and there are those who have to work at it. You will have to work at it." Thanks Shirty. It was hard advice to hear in my teens but completely set me on the correct mind-set to accomplish my goals. He explained in that simple idiom that this wasn't going to come easy. At the age I went to him I wanted everything to come easily and he no doubt had seen it all before.
The correct mind-set to mastery demonstrated perfectly by a man they call "shirty".
So how does the standing desk allow children to shift their perspective in the classroom?
Well the increased blood flow from standing and small movements aids brain function by increasing oxygenation. This can also help with children who suffer ADHD. The elevated position gives children a positive sense of their place in the rooms dynamic resulting in the increased participation. (Not unlike the chair example.) Engagement increases by approx 16% which is significant for such as small shift.
Let’s not forget that standing makes us feel better than sitting. Kids have a tendency to slouch and disengage in class. This is years of muscle memory, child born laziness passed down from generation to generation. The older kids are in school the less likely they are to be active so getting them standing from primary age is a must to ensure they develop a positive mind-set to the proposition and don't shun it because it appears to take slightly more effort.
Active kids become active adults. Our children are glued to devices all day and always look for the easiest way to accomplish tasks. The culture in this country amongst younger people is to shirk exercise in way of screen time and couch time. So it's time to get smart and outfox the young guns into adopting better habits.
How can your classroom frame the standing desk to make it desirable? Well most don’t' have to ...flexible seating is a big hit amongst kids generally. If delivered smartly and framed well the kids love the idea of changing it up and there is rarely any push-back but for those schools who need to get smart to encourage take-up. "King for a lesson" seems like a nice way to frame a singular standing desk classroom. Multiple standing desk hot desk classrooms can work in the idea of rotating between desks to include a little more brain stimulating movement into the daily routines.
I don't need to tell you how to suck eggs. Teachers are some of the most creative and encouraging people to walk the earth. Just remember to engage that part of your brain when you start to include standing in your classroom, because the benefits are huge and perspective is everything.
This article demonstrates the importance of mind-set to the classroom.
Just as it's been proven that brands encouraging our kids to watch YouTuber/Twitch presenters peddle Doritos and Mountain Dew increases those brands junk food sales it seems the correlation between the media we let or children engage with and their eating habits has been further illustrated in a new study which shows that kids who watch healthy food based cooking shows are twice as likely to choose to snack healthily.
“Kids who watched a child-oriented cooking show featuring healthy food were 2.7 times more likely to make a healthy food choice than those who watched a different episode of the same show featuring unhealthy food,”
- The study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour.
The study which was based in the Netherlands, included 125 kids from five schools who were aged between 10 and 12.
The kids watched a Dutch TV show designed for children and were then offered a snack options as a reward. The kids who watched the healthy kids oriented cooking show opted for the cucumber slices and apples over pretzels and crisps.
Frans Folkvord, PhD, of Tilburg University, Tilburg, Netherlands, who ran the study believes that positive TV programming can change the way children regard healthy foods and that kids can be steered towards healthier choices with "positive peer and teacher modelling".
As a parent it's hard to ignore the notion that kids do what we show them and not what we tell them. Hopefully some of the ideas from this study can be applied on a national level when it comes to planning and programming in the UK as part of the countries fight back against the growing childhood obesity epidemic reducing our kids estimated lifespans year after year.
We recently wrote about the fact that kids being involved in the preparation of food increases the chance that they make healthy choices. ( Childhood Obesity Solved: Teach Kids To Cook. ) So it seems we are in dire need of an increase in kid focused cooking shows which encourage kids to understand and get involved in food preparation.
Parents and teachers wanting to encourage their pupils and kids to watch kids focused cooking shows which encourage participation can look no further than shows such as "Kids Baking Show" and "Chopped Junior" on the Food Network and the CBeebies show "I Can Cook" featured here.
BBC Goodfood has a series of online kids cooking recipes you can try out together.
"Modern reliance on ready-prepared foods and a lack of modelling by parents in preparing fresh foods have led to a drop in cooking skills among kids”
The study talks about modelling and encourages parents to help teach kids how to cook safely. The habit of eating healthy much like being active stays with us into adulthood. If this country is to try and combat the growing obesity figures with real changes then a shift in the culture of kids programming and some laws to protect our children from persuasive and predatory kids programming (ON TV and online) needs to come into place.
One great method to get kids into eating fruit and veg is to challenge them to fit three colours onto their plate every day. Look at this selection, its much prettier than chicken nuggets and chips. Lets use that.
For now it’s simply up to you to ensure your children get outside, get active and eat healthily and the best way to influence them to do this is to show them how much fun it is.
“Increased cooking skills among children can positively influence their consumption of fruit and vegetables in a manner that will persist into adulthood.” - Frans Folkvord lead author of the study.
Kid’s cookery classes are also available throughout the UK - a list compiled by BBC good food has some good options.
Parents looking to also encourage healthy habits at home can purchase a kids standing desk on this site here. Whilst teachers and schools looking to include standing desk options in their classrooms can undertake a try before you buy trial at their school by filling in this small form.
The solution is holistic. A cultural shift. A series of small changes which add up to a change in attitude and perception of activity and health. Our children are fixated on their devices so lets co-opt that desire to binge watch media content for good, by spending a little bit of time curating their viewing options.
"The man who moves mountains begins by carrying away small stones." - Confucius
With Christmas day just behind us it's time to start looking forward to the New Year and those inevitable news year’s resolutions and start looking at your family's future with 2020 vision.
Typically new year resolutions don't last much longer than about 8 weeks if your pretty dedicated but experts recommend making changes which aren’t so dramatic but several small effective changes are great so that you can stick to them throughout the year.
Now we'll all sit there with bloated bellies after indulging a little too much and conspire to attend the gym, change our eating habits and start googling the latest trendy diet which cuts out ketones or carbohydrates but very few of us are sparing a thought for our children. The gleeful recipients of a multitude of selection boxes, mince pies and Christmas puddings. The influx of devices as Xmas presents also push back against any notion of any movement or outdoor activity getting a look in.
One thing which never changes over the years is that kids also over indulge at Christmas and if we don't allow them to its easy feel like monsters. So let’s be fair and say that chocolate and sweets have probably been on the menu over December but it's time to think of our children’s waistlines, minds and body health when we consider how to plan news year resolutions that include our kids.
It's proven that healthy children go on to become healthier adults with fewer health related conditions, have better activity habits and live longer lives. So getting into the habit of planning some yearlong changes to improve health could be a good ritual to introduce your kids to so long as you all work together to ensure these changes can stick for more than a few weeks into January.
So here's 5 healthy kids New Year resolution suggestions for your little ones to combat the Christmas time crash. To shake off the screen time sedentary creep and get back into good habits. Parents and schools can work together this year to ensure kids learn to think for themselves and put their own health first.
1. Healthy Colourful School Dinners
80% of kids don't eat enough vegetables. So introduce an idea that you and your offspring can get into. Eat at least three or four colours on your plate every lunch time. This means that even if you’re brood regularly dine on kid’s favourite chicken nuggets and chips they might be tempted to also opt for some greens or sweetcorn, peppers or another colourful vegetable substitute.
This year we wrote about an excellent campaign called Veg Power which encourages kids to "eat them to defeat them" and take down the evil vegetable horde by crunching through them one by one. This campaign is inspired and schools can even encourage uptake by requesting poster and sticker packs here.
2. The Daily Mile
The daily miles was conceived to ensure every child has the chance to include activity and physical movement in their day and to encourage healthy daily habits no matter the child’s socio-economic background. Statistically more effluent families have better access to healthy physical activities, go out more and eat healthier. No surprise really when you consider how much more expensive it is to eat healthily these days. Well one headteacher came up with an idea which has spread across the country.
The daily mile encourages kids and teachers to fun for 15 minutes each school day before class. This not only encourages children to be aware and responsible for their own health but its inclusive and yields positive academic results.
Exercise before lessons improves test results, increases student participation and benefits the overall student experience by affecting the class morale and mood in a positive way. Students feel better and become better learners. Ask your school if they have considered participating in the daily mile in 2020. Your kids can join the 2.3 million other pupils now running a mile a day and you can see your child’s school doing their bit to ensure our kids grow up happy and healthy.
3. Standing Desks for Kids
Introducing your kids to standing desks in 2020 represents one of those changes that could well last the year. Children take to lifestyle changes such as introducing standing to their workstations exceptionally well. It’s inspiring to see how well students and kids at home take to the introduction of standing in their daily routine. Sedentary behaviour is a learnt behaviour. I’m reminded of an anecdote I heard this of one parent asking another parent how they 'got their kids to read' the lady on the subway was reading a book at the time and her child was quietly doing to the same. She replied. "It seems to me that kids don't like to do what you tell them to. However they do what you show them."
This is true for physical activity and standing. Kids whose parents stand whilst they work like to join in and work just like their parents and they find the whole transition a whole lot easier the earlier we introduce it. Reports from schools that introduce standing desks are entirely positive. Read some here.
You can help your child’s school to take up standing desks in the classroom by signposting them to this free try before you buy trial of the Eiger Standing Desk or for your child at home you can pick up a desk from our range right here.
4. Read Together.
The above anecdote aside. Not only will your kids read more if they see you doing but one of the traits of successful parents is reading with their children. New York State University School of Medicine found that babies whose parents read to them develop better literacy, language and reading skills much earlier.
"We compared children from the same social backgrounds who achieved similar tested abilities at ages five and 10, and discovered that those who frequently read books at age 10 and more than once a week when they were 16 had higher test results than those who read less, In other words, reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, in vocabulary, spelling, and mathematics."
- Dr. Alice Sullivan
Reading with your children will pass on a love of books which will not only improve their academic outlook but give them an interest that can only benefit them in later life. Good mental health is essential for good overall health. So show your kids how to love books and you'll be giving them a gift that will last a lifetime. Visiting a library with your kids will encourage them to read more.
5. Device Free Zoning
Research shows that the blue light from the devices you and your children have glued to your face all day including before bed can inhibit the production of the chemical the body needs to induce sleep.
Not only this but an abundance of screen time is linked to reduced motor skills, attention deficit and a host of other health problems stemming from the sedentary nature of screen time. So be it your kitchen at dinner times (A good idea is to spend more time around the family dinner table together so this is a good shout) or the family room or even one of their own bedrooms, but whichever you or your kids pick. Make them involved in the decision and make sure the rule sticks.
So we not suggesting you turn into a strict and unrelenting parent for 2020 but the careful introduction of some of these ideas might just allow you to push back against the poor habits we all slip into over the festive season and get your kids thinking for themselves and adopting healthier choices when a little encouragement and a framework delivered by your conscientious parenting and modelling.
Veg Power write up on iwantastandingdesk.com
The literacy trust has a campaign to let you buy other kids books.
383,775 children in the UK don’t have a single book of their own. You can donate by text here is how.
New data shows children born today will spend more time in ill health when they are older than our generation. Meanwhile new data from the office of national statistics has also shown that 65 and overs are seeing their life expectancy increase. Men aged 65 are averaging an increase in life expectancy of 32 weeks whilst women can expect to live an extra 20 weeks approximately.
The study found that Richmond-upon-Thames men can expect to live to just shy of 72 years whilst Blackpool men have a healthy life expectancy of only 53 years.
For women in Nottingham a 'healthy life expectancy' is only 54 years but by contrast a baby girl in Wokingham can expect to live to 72. A significant disparity of 18 years.
Before 2012 large life expectancy gains year after year were expected now those gains are decreasing massively. Today’s children can expect to live 5 years less than their parents. This is a dramatic decline in health due to prevailing failing support for the health of young people and an increase in cancer causing sedentary lifestyles and screen time addiction.
What can schools do to help encourage their pupil’s to live healthy lifestyles? Well aside from delivering health education the schools can ensure than they provide opportunity for pupils to learn in active classrooms. This means the provision of flexible seating options, standing desks for kids and help kids reach the advised daily targets of 60 Mins exercise a day to help them stay healthy.
Schools doing this are already reaping the benefit as they report that pupil engagement increases, test results improve and general class atmosphere benefits when standing desks are introduced.
Schools wishing to try out standing desks the classrooms for themselves can try before you buy by filling in this form.
There are options such as the daily mile, BBC super-movers and marathon kids which encourage pupils to move regularly and integrate physical literacy into their daily rituals.
Lets work together to push back against the decline of out nations health. Surely we owe it to the next generation to make changes now before they spend more and more of their adult life suffering from ill-health and shorter lives.
This week sees several interesting news items surrounding kid’s health making the headlines. So rather than pick one out to write about we decided to bring you a news week breakdown focusing on kid’s health and education. So let’s get into it.
Dentists Call For Sugar Free Schools.
This week saw Dentists asking schools in England to go sugar-free after the launch of a new report which indicates the leading reason children are admitted into hospital between the age of five and nine is for tooth decay. The faculty of dental surgery has suggested supervised tooth brushing in schools. (These actually occur in Scotland and Wales already.)
They have put forward several suggested action points to combat the issues of tooth early onset tooth decay.
- Schools should become sugar free.
- Price increase sugary dairy drinks such as milkshakes.
- Reduce the amount of adverts for sugary food and drink.
- Lower the sugar content of baby food.
"It is incredibly worrying that levels of tooth decay among children in England remain so high. Everyone needs to play their part in ensuring our children have healthy, happy teeth." - Professor Michael Escudier, Dean of the Faculty of Dental Surgery
New Tool for Assessing Screen Time Addiction
A peer reviewed journal, Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking found that more than 12% of kids aged nine to twelve are at risk of becoming addicted to digital devices.
The system for assessment borrows diagnostic criteria from the Digital Addiction Scale for Children (DASC) and measures the impact of screen time on the family unit, the likelihood the child is to lie about their use and the likelihood that problems arise from overuse such as sleep deprivation, academic slipping and more.
The addiction criteria were: preoccupation, tolerance, withdrawal, mood modification, conflict, and relapse. Now this might not seem like a huge news item but we live in an age where screen time is having direct consequences on how children’s brains are structured. A study released in November shows that more screen time means lower structural integrity of white matter tracts in parts of the brain responsible for language, literacy and emotional regulation.
Young people are now being diagnosed with a recognised disorder of gaming addiction because they legitimately experience symptoms of withdrawal and are controlled by their desire to play. No surprise when you consider how gaming companies now employ addiction consultants to implement game mechanics to cultivate exactly this response.
Info on the brain study can be found here.
"Screen-based media use is prevalent and increasing in home, childcare and school settings at ever younger ages, these findings highlight the need to understand effects of screen time on the brain, particularly during stages of dynamic brain development in early childhood, so that providers, policymakers and parents can set healthy limits." - Dr. Hutton.
Ways to monitor screen time addiction seems like a necessary response to a problem which is quietly growing in impact. Teachers and parents, take note. Screen time isn't just another boogie man. Overuse has direct consequences on your children's brain functions, sleep patterns, mood regulation and cognitive ability. As we live in the tech age where kids are grabbing iPads instead of books please remember that doctors used to endorse smoking before the general consensus was that they kill you.
New study suggests brain differences may be linked to obesity.
So this piece is interesting in terms of how it links brain differences and obesity which should the thinking that they are heavily connected become mainstream this could directly influence how we equip education work-spaces.
The recent study doesn't suggest that intelligence dips alongside weight gain but it does show a reduction in executive brain function alongside increased BMI.
Some critics say that studies such as these are dangerous because poor interpretation of the results can lead to unfair stigma attached to overweight people but an editorial which was published alongside the results called it "an important addition to mounting evidence of a link between weight, brain structure and mental function."
We have release many articles in this blog which demonstrates the mounting evidence that physical movement and active lifestyles directly affect academic results and even raises test score results. There are Ted Talks to this affect for those interested in learning more.
In short: These findings suggest that body mass index is associated with cortical development and diminished executive functions, such as working memory and might directly impact how in the future we look to treat obesity by improving brain function and vice versa.
The study yielded an insightful comment from one Henry Skinner MD Family Psychiatry of Maine who explains that should the cause and effect be reversed that the results might make more sense. I.e. "People with executive function challenges have more difficulty negotiating the toxic capitalist nutrition environment."
Is it simply a case of lower functioning adolescents falling vulnerable to a hostile predatory marketing machine and making ill-advised choices. Well according to Skinner child and adolescent psychiatrists observe this in clinic frequently and he believes this is the more likely reasoning for the results given that it requires fewer assumptions. (Occam ’s razor)
So just some interesting titbit’s from the children’s health community. One thing is for sure is there is an ever growing notion that schools have the time and resources to fix every child’s health problems which is simply not the case but schools are well positioned to educate kids to make better choices and learning spaces which afford students the opportunity to include movement in their daily routines are certainly an effortless way schools can support their students mental and physical health.
We offer schools standing desk trials for this exact reason. If you want to try before you buy then visit this form and get In touch.
An estimated 41 million children worldwide are deemed overweight or obese (World Health Organisation, 2017)
A study by the World Health Organisation and Imperial College London showed that the number of obese children and adolescents has increased tenfold in the past four decades and should current trends continue then more children will be obese than underweight by 2022. To put this in simple terms in 1975 there were 11 Million obese children now 124 million kids are obese meanwhile another 213 million are overweight but shy of the obesity threshold.
BMI is a measure of a person’s weight and body fat mass for their height, and indicates whether their weight is healthy.
A study undertaken by researcher Monica Wendel, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences has shown a significant drop in student Body Mass Index for classrooms fitted out with student standing desks for kids.
The study was published by the American Journal of Public Health and included 193 kids at three Primary age schools. Children in the control classrooms used traditional desk seating (The kind one Head teacher referred to as inhumane!) whilst the test subjects used standing desks with the option of rest stools.
At the beginning of the study each students BMI was recorded along with pertinent information on their age, weight, gender, height etc. and after one and two years the same information was collected for comparison.
After adjusting for grade, race, ethnicity and gender Wendel discovered a 5.24% decrease in the standing desk classrooms student body B.M.I. The same results also showed up after only one year.
"School-age children spend most of their waking hours during the week at school. Changing classrooms to stand-biased environments has the potential to affect millions of children by interrupting sedentary behaviour, and this can be done simply, at a low cost, and without disrupting classroom instruction," Wendel said.
Now childhood obesity levels are at a record high so the simple implementation of standing desk classrooms affecting student BMI is an excellent supporting argument for making the move to include them in your learning space. Schools wishing to trial standing desks in their classrooms can start a try before you buy trial here.
New data published in October 2018 showed year 6 child obesity has increased by more than a third in 2007. This was from data captured by the national child measurement programme overseen by Public Health England.
The same data captured has shown;
- The proportion of overweight and obese children in reception year (aged 4 to 5) has remained at 22.4% equal to a staggering 136,586 children
- For year 6 children, it is 34.3% (equal to 197,888 children) compared to 31.6% in 2006 to 2007
Dr Alison Tedstone, Chief Nutritionist at PHE described childhood obesity as a Crisis which the government needs to tackle with bold steps.
"This threat to our children’s health has been decades in the making – we’re moving in the right direction but reversing it will not happen overnight."
A new measure to help tackle the growing epidemic of childhood obesity has been implemented in London as of February 25th. The London transport network can now no longer carry advertising for food which is deemed to be overly fatty or high in sugar. The impact of this cannot be underestimated and should be rolled out nationwide according to Dr Stuart Flint, of Leeds Beckett University who contributed to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity. He said;
“This policy is needed across the UK, not just in London. Local authorities should be considering this policy and the potential impact that it could on child and adult health nationally.”
The ban also extends to roundabouts, bus stops, taxis and trams and is designed to reduce the glamorisation of junk food to kids. London has one of the highest childhood obesity rates in Europe with almost 40% of 10-11 year old's being obese.
A spokesperson for the mayor said:
"The mayor is confident these changes will not only reduce children's exposure to junk food advertising, but also empower Londoners to make healthier food choices for themselves and their families."
This is however only shining a light on a more national problem. Obesity rates are sky rocketing as are rates of diabetes type 2 according to new figures from Diabetes UK over 7000 young people in the UK now have it. Physical literacy is also at an all-time low due to our children’s overuse of devices and increased screen time.
There was a study on the influence of social media influencers who actively showed themselves engaging in eating unhealthy products and this demonstrated that children who watched influencers who ate unhealthy products on air measured an increase in unhealthy food within their diets. The same test was done with healthy food and this had very little effect. From this we can extrapolate that kids don’t need much of a nudge to eat poorly and marketing has a significant effect on their eating habits and their perceptions of food.
It will be much more of an uphill battle to glamourize eating healthy but as a nation we have a responsibility to ensure our children’s attitudes towards fruit and veg stays on course. The study data is here.
80% of British kids don’t eat enough veg. There is however a very cool new ITV backed campaign called Veg Power which takes the fight to veg and positions them as the bad guys with the only way to defeat them being to eat them. Veg Power is supported by a host of familiar names in the fight against childhood obesity some of which include Jamie Oliver, ITV, Ella’s Kitchen, Oxford University, Iceland, Birdseye, Morrison’s and Tesco’s
Schools in the UK can do their part to combat childhood obesity. They can request sticker and poster packs here; give your location and number of KS2 pupils to ask for a support pack. Or alternatively download Veg Power posters charts and more to promote the "Eat Them To Defeat Them" message on the following link.
Iwantastandingdesk.com proactively support over a hundred UK schools to implement standing desks into their classrooms keeping movement and active lifestyles a priority in their learning spaces. They see the benefits of this not just in more alert and engaged students but also statistics prove that their children are out-performing inactive students by 16%. Movement is imperative to good mental and physical health. It combats obesity which is linked to cancer and early death.
UK schools can request student standing desk trials here by filling in this very short form.
With new advertising bans alongside campaigns to demonstrate the importance of healthy eating to kids set to a backdrop of a changing curriculum to include health messages it seems that our government is finally waking up to the dire issues arising in our young people and their lifestyles.
Disturbingly children's expected lifespans are now 5 years shorter than our own for the first time in history. We desperately need more initiatives to empower children to make the right choices for themselves and encourage them to get outside and get active so they grow up to become healthy well rounded adults in this ever changing tech led world we have created for them.
Veg Power, School Standing Desks and The Daily Mile are all ways in which schools can help to combat the growing childhood obesity problem. Some schools are proactive in supporting healthy messaging...Is your school contributing to the problem of sedentary behaviour and its negative impacts or providing solutions to tackle childhood obesity? There are certainly lots of ways to have a positive impact. Time to start getting stuck in.
Brad Johnson, Author of Learning on Your Feet: Incorporating Physical Activity into the K-8 Classroom has produced an article in Principle, published by the National Association of Elementary School Principles describing the practise of sitting in schools as "Inhumane"
Johnson makes links to rising rates of obesity, ADHD and diabetes as a result of the old fashioned sitting culture in modern day schooling.
He has the stats to back up his claims and says that if these figures were related to an infectious disease that we'd be declaring an epidemic however as this is resultant from education it’s simply the status quo.
Obesity rates in children have doubled since the 1980's
Type 2 Diabetes is up 30% in children between 2000-2009
There are now 5.7 million children diagnosed with ADHD and the use of pyscho-stimulants such as Ritalin is up by 700%
Johnson reflects on a longitudinal study by Howard Gardner which found that a group of children who all tested at a genius level up to age 4 only ten percent continued to test at such levels by age 20. Johnson attributes this to the public education systems imposed uniformity and sedentary behaviours.
Johnson offers tips on helping kids to burn off their excess energy and focus on learning - these include regular breaks for stretching and standing, two minute exercise breaks for sit-ups to refocus and dancing and games designed to work off pent up energy.
Johnson states that there are many connections between the brain and movement and our ability to learn, one of which is that the same part of the brain that controls movement controls also learning so Johnson believes that sitting actively hinders the learning process.
Basically exercise and movement stimulates the executive function part of the brain which aids cognition, organisation, focus, emotional regulation and multi-tasking all essential elements of a well-rounded learner.
"The part of the brain that processes movement also processes learning. So when students are sitting still, the learning process is actually hindered rather than enhanced.” - Johnson
Johnson’s article is available here.
...and his book is available here.
Three Doctors have been quoted in the media this week. Here's why.
Do you own a standing desk ? Do you run? if you answered yes to both of these questions then using time at your desk practising balancing on one leg is just what the doctor ordered.
Dr Mark Cucuzzella is a running expert and a professor of family medicine in West Virginia. Amongst the myriad of "new year, new you" articles hitting the internet this January sits a nice little tip from the good doctor. He suggests runners should concern themselves with establishing and improving their balance and if you run and use a standing desk, you can use specific times in the day as a prompt for you to stand on one foot to develop and improve your centre of balance. This could be when you answer your emails or some other habitual moment that’s memorable and suitable for you.
Now why does this matter? well balance plays a huge role in running and — “because running is a series of jumps where you have to land on one foot, stick that landing and get off the ground,” Cucuzzella says it’s all about staying safe and injury free on the road or track. His article has a series of tips for runners to get active and stay healthy in world where technology is increasingly designed to keep us in chairs.
“Just spend as much time as you can on one foot trying to master that balance and never lose it,”
The act of balancing on one foot takes stress off each leg and initiates a degree of movement as anyone who follows this blog already knows we actively encourage this in order to get benefit from your standing desk. We feel this tip can work for all you standing desk users to keep those micro movements up which will help maintain good circulation and better calorie burning benefits from standing. Remember standing still all day is almost as bad for you as sitting still all day.
Secondly a well written article on the Independent also includes another UK medical practitioner, TV Doctor Mark Rowe providing a series of life changing tips including investing in a standing desk as part of a new year healthy regime to keep movement up and vary your working position - read their piece on getting active in 2019 here on their Life Health and Well-being blog.
Lastly Dr Vegar Rangu a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has had some disconcerting results to their study of cancer rates among 38,000 adults over a 16 year period, and found that those who reported sitting for long periods each day were 20% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who spend more of the day on their feet. You read more about their research here on the Metro.
Studies have previously linked long sitting periods with increased rates of type 2 diabetes, cancer and premature death but this one specifically shows a link to an increase in prostate cancer.
‘The main findings were that prolonged sitting time is independently associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer while moderate to high leisure-time physical activity may reduce the risk of specific cancer types, particularly colorectal and lung cancer,’ says Dr Rangul.
‘we noted that moderate physical activity significantly decreased the risk – the findings emphasising the importance of reducing sitting time and increasing physical activity.’
With 2019 barrelling down upon us and those post-Christmas dinner waistlines stretching it’s that time of year when many of us start to think about how we might tackle our healthy habits for the upcoming year. Now as research illustrates Gyms aren't cutting it, as 9 out of 10 people who buy into a yearly gym membership will quit after only 6 weeks and with new NHS guidelines recommending standing meetings to tackle the growing obesity problem affecting our nation its time to consider working up those new year’s resolutions.
If you are making some firm plans to integrate standing and movement into next year’s plan for a healthier body then you might want to bookmark the 26th April.
“On your feet day” which is a national day when workers across Britain participate in a variety of fun activities to sit less and move more. Is free to sign up (which you can do here.) and offers suggestions getting everyone involved in fun and simple ways;
• Stand during phone calls
• Stand and take a break from your computer every 30 minutes
• Use the stairs
• Have standing or walking meetings
• Eat your lunch away from your desk
• Walk to your colleague's desk instead of phoning or emailing them
• Stand at the back of the room during presentations
The national standing challenge day website offers a challenge page with ideas on how to take part, including the creation of teams and fun challenges. Once signed up you can download posters, guidelines and information from March 2019.
We urge you to get involved, sign up, book the day in your diary and join 2 million other people championing standing in the workplace this New Year. Official website is www.onyourfeetday.com
The average office worker sits down more than an Old Age Pensioner. White collar workers are on their bottoms for an average of 9 hours a day healthcare studies show. That’s 540 minutes a day…a staggering 16425 minutes a month. Nearly 200,000 Minutes a year.
29% of us sit for up to half an hour daily on our way to work. Whilst a further 27% sit for up to an hour a day on their commute. We often then work sat down, take our breaks sat down, before commuting home on our bottoms. A third of us are then sitting between 4-6 hours in the evening and weekends.
After this? Well we go and have a lie down to go to sleep. Think about that for a moment. Can you section your day up from the moment you get out of bed and honestly say you’re not sitting for a massive proportion of it? Health experts vehemently agree that 9 hours a day (on average) is too much.
One study interviewed 2000 workers and found that 2/3rds of people didn’t consider themselves “happy” about the amount of time they spent sitting. 73 % of participants demonstrated musculoskeletal problems such as back, neck and shoulder pain.
Sitting is heavily associated with numerous illnesses. The NHS has written extensively about why sitting is bad for us, and they recommend at least 150 minutes a week doing exercise.
Studies have linked excessive sitting with being overweight and obese, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and early death.
Next year you have a choice to make. Are you going to be one the 2/3rds who aren’t happy with their sedentary lifestyle or are you going to join the growing number of people who are actively increasing their movement and integrating standing into their social and work lives to make their whole life longer, healthier and happier.
The beginning of a new year is great time to take stock and decide if you want to make some positive changes. Go ahead and set some goals. You could get a standing desk, or get an apple watch to remind you to stand, or just get out of your chairs and walk around. Whatever works for you, next year we urge you to simply GET UP.
The NHS has a helpful live well guide that is a road map for how you could be healthier at work. You can find it here.
Be your best version of you.
The Guardian have published a lengthy first person account of one writer’s lifetime struggle with back pain. The editorial in their ongoing “the long read” blog details writer Maggie O’Farrell’s reflections on living with chronic pain from spinal injury for many years.
An excerpt on Maggie’s life changing back pain;
“Don’t get me wrong: I consider myself to be an extremely lucky person. The doctors first said that I would die; when I didn’t, they said I wouldn’t walk again. To have recovered, to have found a loophole out of one of these destinies, let alone both, strikes me as the very best fortune a person could ever have.”
You can read Maggie's full editorial here.
Now we understand Maggie’s back pain is a result of injury and her telling of it brings to light one primary fact for us here at I Want A Standing Desk UK Blog. That fact is that back pain IS HORRIFIC to live with. Readers of Spine-Health.com voted back pain as being more painful that childbirth.
Now we can’t make every floor not slippery and we can’t wave a magic want to eliminate back pain from injury in fact the elderly have shown us that most people will suffer from it at some point in their lives. However we can suggest to you that some of you are getting back pain from sitting way too much. We know many of you sit for 9 and half hours a day. In the UK alone back pain is the single most common cause of lost working days, with the costs running into billions of pounds. Each year 2 million people attend their General Practitioners with spinal problems and over 300,000 are referred for specialist care.
Lee Barker who is the principal physiotherapist at Alderbank Physiotherapy, in Grimsargh, near Preston, and was a member of the Olympic Physiotherapy Team 2012 explains here that standing up isn’t just good for your general health it is great for your back. He writes that the body was not designed to sit for such lengthy periods but we need to take the pressure off our vertebrae and reduce strain by standing more.
MD of iwantastandingdesk.com Nick White said “back problems are life stoppers (short and long term). Why wait to start looking after your lower back until you have a problem? People need to spend less time in the chair and more time stood correctly to feel the benefits immediately.”
Business insider writer Mathew DeBord this week has written about his change to a standing desk after a lifetime of sitting. He fashioned a home-made standing desk to test the process before he opts for a better more rigid solution. Now we see these all the time on social media, these are the modern equivalent of the breeze block bookshelf. However even with a modest setup the benefits were convincing for Mathew.
Mathews make-shift standing desk. Read Mathews full account here.
He writes about how using an Apple watch he is able to keep ahead of his standing reminders which new research has shown can add two years to your life expectancy.
“It's been a few months and I haven't looked back.”
Abraham The Pharmacist has created a video after using the Eiger standing desk
If you see an interesting account of someone talking, writing about or solving their problems with a standing desk please tweet it to us at @standingdeskuk
Many children spend at least nine hours a day sitting down and with anti-sitting research on the rise and a daily target of 30 mins in exercise, teachers are beginning to integrate active learning into their classrooms to combat childhood obesity and improve their academic results.
The BBC has published an article detailing new research on active students.
"International research found that after three years of physically active learning, pupils were still more attentive following the activity...After one active lesson, a child can improve their Maths performance by as much as 16%. If your child learns in an active way, after two years, they could be four months ahead in maths and spelling compared to traditional seated classroom learning."
We reported last month that childhood obesity is responsible for a record breaking 5 year reduction in our children’s expected lifespans. The BBC article breaks down the benefits of combining movement and learning. In only one 45 minute active learning session a child can do 9 minutes of exercise, hitting a third of their daily target.
Andy Daly-Smith for the BBC explained that recently the National Association of Head Teachers passed a motion to encourage all schools to adopt physically active learning. Running around the playground to answer maths questions or getting outdoors for forest schools are just some of the ways UK schools are trying to get their children active.
Super Movers is a popular classroom based approach to active learning and uses videos of well-known children’s characters such as the Worst Witch to get children interested in the active learning experience.
The Worst Witch sings and dances about percentages in a supermovers video.
Meanwhile the International Journal of Health Promotion and Education has reported that students given standing desks have been found to participate more in lessons than those sitting down. A study of 282 students aged seven to ten years old for two terms, showed those with standing desks were 12 per cent more likely to answer questions or join in class discussions.
With the research that being active improves brain connections, focus and academic results combined with schools feeling the increased pressure to achieve new daily movement targets and some US schools going all-standing you should expect to see standing desks and active learning on the rise throughout the UK.