Q&A: Student Standing Desks for SPED



During the recent live Standing Desks: How and Why Educators Are Using Them webinar, listeners had an opportunity to pose questions about how standing desks can help create a healthy, flexible, and personalized learning environment. (If you missed the webinar, access it online at edWeb and earn a CE credit!)

Here, co-presenter Bob Hill addresses an important question that a number of educators have on their minds.


A: Research at the ATTAIN Tech Lab in New Hope, MN, suggests it does. SPED students were encouraged to stand for at least five minutes every half hour. Simple movement may increase focus, concentration, work quality, and overall behavior for students with cerebral palsy, autism spectrum, developmental coordination, emotional and behavioral disorders. Watch a video of an interview with an ATTAIN educator or read the scientific journal article: Sit, Stand, Learn.

While Ergotron desks are not officially ADA-certified, educators find that both the LearnFit and TeachWell® mobile adjustable workstations help level the playing field for many students with physical challenges. For example, students in wheelchairs can wheel right up to the desk and engage more easily with peers while participating in group projects.

You can also access last year’s  School Moves! webinar on-demand – it focuses mainly on the metabolic health and engagement aspects of an active classroom. (CE credit is available.)

Bob Hill,
Education Manager at Ergotron

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The importance of pilot studies in research, part 3


In the years since we started investigating sedentary behavior, Ergotron has supported independent research with our WorkFit or LearnFit products as the primary intervention. Breaking up sitting time with our sit-stand desks has proven to be beneficial in every one of the over 20 completed studies.

The ATTAIN pilot study of this series (see parts 1 & 2) was no exception. LearnFit adjustable standing desks improved outcomes at a Minneapolis work-experience lab where students with special needs receive training in computer skills.

In this video, I interview Bruce Holder of the ATTAIN Technology Lab about the lab’s experience with these alternative workstations.

It’s astounding that something as simple as standing could make such a notable improvement in a classroom. And we might never have known it without this small, unique pilot study. What’s the mechanism that allows a sit-stand desk to boost a student’s ability to perform and behave and what are the implications for adults?

The answer lies in the way that bones, blood, and brain function in concert. As Bruce explains in the video, all teenagers have a lot of energy and need to move around. Changing positions also helped students reduce boredom and stay engaged in routine, repetitious activities.

This is what we know so far about breaking up prolonged sitting:

1. Sitting time decreases,

2. Positive mood states elevate,

3. Back pain is either reduced or eradicated,

4. HDL (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) increases,

5. Blood sugar drops,

6. Concentration improves,

7. Triglycerides fall.

Our bodies, brain included, depend on movement. When we don’t move, our metabolism slows to a stop, with major repercussions for every other system of your body. Move it or lose it. That’s the bottom line.

carrie s_a-hr

– Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)

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The importance of pilot studies in research, part 2



See part 1 here

When Ergotron chose to support the ATTAIN pilot study about the impact of using LearnFit adjustable standing desks in a computer lab for special needs students, we didn’t know what to expect. Would we get clear results? Would they be transfer to other populations? And mostly, would they be dismissed because of the small sample size?

For this Sit-Stand Action Research Project, researchers randomly assigned 13 ATTAIN Technology Lab students to intervention and comparison groups or a 40-day period. The intervention group received sit‐to‐stand units which enabled them to easily alternate between sitting and standing. Students were encouraged to stand for at least five minutes every 30 minutes, but could opt to stand longer. The comparison group of two students continued to work at traditional sit-only desks.

Here’s what the research discovered:
> Students in the intervention group showed notable improvement in their quality of work over the course of the project, unlike the comparison group.
> Additionally, their behavior improved over the course of the project. (For the comparison group, behavior either remained the same or worsened.)

My primary concern was that the students’ learning challenges were far too variable to provide clear results. I was uncertain that the students, even with guidance from their instructors, would be able to maintain a sit-stand cycle sufficient to impact behavior and performance. My fears were unfounded.

I was further encouraged when the study was published in 2014 by the American College of Sports Medicine in their HEALTH & FITNESS JOURNAL, VOL. 19/ NO. 1.

In that article, Sit, Stand, Learn Using Workplace Wellness Sit-Stand Results to Improve Student Behavior and Learning the authors Nicolaas P. Pronk, PhD, and Abigail S. Katz, PhD, identified prolonged sitting time as a risk factor for various negative health outcomes including metabolic syndrome and obesity. They propose breaking up extended periods of sitting with intermittent standing as a promising solution and point to an emerging body of research suggesting that doing so improves emotional health, such as mood, as well.

This simple pilot study elegantly demonstrates that our bodies and minds are not separate entities that function independently of each other — something we’ll examine more closely in a later post.

Knowing that “sitting disease” is a growing public health issue, Ergotron has supported independent researchers around the world. They represent many disciplines, from ergonomics to epidemiology, sports medicine to psychology and all are united in a single goal: to reduce the harmful effects of sedentary behavior and by improving health, to optimize performance. In the last five years Ergotron has supported this research with donations of sit-stand desks.

In every one of those studies, breaking up sitting time has proven to be beneficial in every one of the completed sit-stand studies. How is that possible?

In part 3 of this series, I will detail how Ergotron’s research delves into sedentary living and its effect on human health and performance.

carrie s_a-hr

– Carrie Schmitz, Sr. Manager of Ergonomic & Wellness Research at Ergotron (@giveafig)

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