Standing Desks Keep Students Learning on Their Toes

By Balbina Yang, Features Editor

CHS students spend about six hours, five days a week sitting stationary at a desk. Due to the health risks and lack of attention that comes with the sedentary school-day lifestyle, some schools across the U.S. have taken a stand to end these unhealthy habits.

As of August 2015, elementary schools in California have implemented standing desks, also known as desks with no chairs. These desks have been proven to decrease health problems and increase student focus during class.

“Personally, I like to stand, and I think [implementing standing desks] is a wonderful research project that will help children be healthy during class,” Principal Joan Benz said.

Although many have not heard of the concept of standing desks, the idea is not necessarily a new one. Standing desks have been around as early as 2010, but have not been used in school until this August.

According to a March 2014 Smithsonian Magazine article, standing desks once “were a curiosity,” primarily used by eccentrics like Hemingway and Dickens, but were rarely seen in a regular office setting.

The resurrected interest in standing desks primarily stems from the nationwide obesity issue. The idea is to get students to move around during the day, as they sit for the majority of the week, which increases certain health risks.

According to a March 2012 Discovery article, people who spend four hours or more sitting have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood sugar. Standing burns three times as many calories as sitting.

Many students are optimistic about implementing standing desks at CHS and understand the benefits they have to offer.

“Standing desks are beneficial to students’ health because they let blood circulate throughout body and force students to stay focused during their classes,” junior Jade Phan said.

Other than just having health benefits, standing desks may be helpful in terms of academics. For example, standing desks can help students be more alert and fight the urge to sleep or even rest during class.

Many teachers at CHS have stringent rules as to when students can rest and put their heads on desks.

“Certain body language makes teachers believe that children are sleeping or not involved in the lesson,” Benz said. “In this case, teachers should encourage students to keep their heads up or just send them to the health room.”

Spending several hours in one spot for almost an entire day can be tiring, and it can be difficult to stay awake, especially after a long night of doing homework.

“One thing teachers need to do is to walk around a lot,” Spanish teacher Stacy Steele-Yue said. “The set-up of the classroom is very important; teachers should be able to freely move back and forth. Also, teachers should make students move around every 15 minutes or so, so they can get exercise and be active.”

However, even with the advantages of having standing desks, it is not certain whether CHS will ever implement any anytime soon.

“At this time, we cannot afford them,” Benz said. “MCPS has to promote for funding and good research in order for us to ever get standing desks.”