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How To Help Children Stay Active For Better Academic Performance

How To Help Children Stay Active For Better Academic Performance

By Sally Writes, Guest Writer

Only one in three children in the U.S. leads an active life every day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers have concluded that the number of children leading sedentary lives who risk becoming overweight or obese is on the rise. Lack of physical activity has also been linked with poor academic performance, so parents and teachers must encourage kids to be more active in order to stay stay engaged when learning. Yet most recommendations on how to keep kids active are hard to implement because they require a measure of disruption to the kids’ normal lives. One relatively easy way to encourage physical activity is by helping kids reduce the hours they spend sitting.

Sitting: A Little-Known Learning Impediment

Studies have revealed an association between sedentary lifestyles and poor academic performance. For example, a study by the University of Eastern Finland found that 6-8 year-old boys who live sedentary lives have poorer reading skills compared to active kids. Among the biggest factors that contribute to inactivity in children is the long hours they spend seated.

In the U.S, an average child aged 8-18 years spends an average of 4.5 hours seated at school, and seven more hours seated in front of a screen every day. This is according to the findings of a 2010 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The study estimated that kids in this age group spend 85 percent of their waking hours seated. Therefore, even without getting kids to do vigorous physical activity, this national sitting problem can be addressed. Standing while studying is one of the easiest and most affordable ways of ensuring that kids stay active. Standing is known to dramatically improve the activity levels of people. In an experiment, a wearable activity tracker was used to compare the body activity of man while standing compared to when sitting on a work desk. He was able to burn 27 more calories in one hour while standing compared to when he was seated. Can a similar approach help school-going children?

How Standing Desks Can Help Kids Stay Active

One way school children can be helped to spend more hours standing at school is by providing them with standing desks. Already, a number of schools in the U.S. have replaced their usual sitting desks with standing desks or adjustable desks. A study published by the StandUpKid organization revealed that standing desks for children reduce BMI by 5.6 percent and kids burn up to 35 percent more calories when using standing desks compared to normal sitting desks. Another study by Dr. Mark Benden revealed that standing desks can help improve kids’ academic performance. The teachers who participated in his study noted that students are more attentive and engaged during classes conducted on standing desks than on regular sitting desks.

How Parents Can Encourage Standing at Home

Parents can attempt to help children to spend more hours standing by providing standing/adjustable desks and encouraging the kids to do their homework on the desks. Some parents have extended the same principle to other actives. For example, some parents encourage their kids to play their video games and watch TV on their standing/adjustable desk as opposed to sitting. In all endeavors, the goal is to reduce the amount of time the kids spend sitting to keep them healthy and engaged when studying.

Living sedentary lives is a public health crisis that negatively impacts children’s grades. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to help children to lead more active lives is by helping them to spend more hours standing. The time kids spend sitting can dramatically be reduced when the use standing/adjustable desks when doing their homework, playing videos games, or even watching TV.

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