As September, and National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, draws to a close, it’s important that we all take a moment to reflect on where we stand thus far in the campaign against childhood obesity, and if we’re doing all we can to win the fight.
One of the key aspects of this epidemic is actually right in front of our noses: our children’s schools. And while initiatives to improve lunch programs is an important component to this campaign, nutrition alone is not going to go the whole distance to improving children’s health. Increasing physical activity and reducing sitting time are just as crucial.
There’s been growing concern that children are defaulting into sedentary lifestyles (i.e. long hours spent in front of the television, computer and playing video games) – what we should also be considering a threat is the amount of time spent sitting in today’s classroom.
In total, children likely spend over 6 hours a day seated in school. A recent study in the United Kingdom revealed greater than 50% of the seven- and eight-year old children sampled were sedentary for greater than 6.4 hours/day – with sedentary behavior comprising greater than 65% of their waking hours.
Teachers and schools, in order to promote better health and academic performance, are taking a stand – quite literally – deploying Ergotron’s LearnFit™ Standing Desks in the classroom. These desks incorporate more natural movement throughout the day. Access to the desks can help children burn more calories during classroom instruction, especially when other active opportunities are disappearing with school budget cuts – child development research shows that movement and learning are integrally linked.
The facts about Why Classroom Movement Gets an A+:
- The part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning.
- Exercise boosts brain power.
- Movement can be an effective cognitive strategy to strengthen learning, improve memory and retrieval and enhance learner motivation and morale.
- Studies indicate that concentration is lost after the fourth lesson of the morning, but challenging the vestibular or balance system has a tremendous effect on brain activity, renewing the ability to concentrate.
- Activities that stimulate inner-ear motion, like swinging, rolling and jumping significantly improve attention and reading.
- Physical activity increases blood flow, and hence oxygen, to the brain; oxygen is essential for brain function.
The preliminary results have been overwhelmingly positive in discovering more about the effects of prolonged sitting – in school and at home – on children’s overall health and well-being (see Belle Terre Elementary the first school in the United States into their second season with a classroom fully-equipped with our LearnFit standing desks).
To learn more about how we can all encourage healthier movement for children in our schools and homes, visit: http://juststand.org/.