Schools Should Consider the Negative Health Effects of Sitting All Day

Studies confirm the consequences of a sedentary lifestyle

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Schools Should Consider the Negative Health Effects of Sitting All Day

Students sit in desks all day long.

Students sit in desks all day long.

Graphic/ Charlotte Clarke

Students sit in desks all day long.

Graphic/ Charlotte Clarke

Graphic/ Charlotte Clarke

Students sit in desks all day long.

Grace Manzo, Staff Writer

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The average adult in the U.S. spends six and a half hours per day sitting. As for the average high school student, almost all of their seven hour school day is spent sitting. Sedentary behavior in both adults and students has been on the rise since 2007, and will continue to rise should the trend continue. This prolonged inactivity has been linked to a host of health problems, ranging in severity from stiff muscles to cardiovascular disease and premature death. The significant research behind the damaging effects of sitting all day should be taken into consideration by school administrations, and changes should be implemented in the schedule to reduce the time students spend sitting each day. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, those who sit for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity have a risk of dying similar to the risk posed by smoking and obesity. 

As for short term effects, sitting for long periods of time can affect students’ athletic performance. Sitting all day tightens certain muscles while others remain elongated, causing musculoskeletal imbalances, according to Runner’s World. A common example is the hip flexors, which when tightened cause an anterior tilt, which effectively shuts down large muscle groups such as the abdominals and glutes, important for stabilizing. This places the body in a prime position for injury while simultaneously worsening the musculoskeletal imbalance. 

Aside from the negative physical effects sitting has on the body, standing can have a positive mental impact. According to a study from the Texas A&M Health and Science Center, standing can improve focus in a classroom setting. In addition, standing burns up to 15% more calories than sitting, helping combat the risk of childhood obesity.

 Additionally, StandupKids reports that standing prevents orthopedic degradation and dysfunction including back and neck pain, repetitive stress injuries, pelvic floor dysfunction, and knee and hip disorders. 

Now, it would be unreasonable to demand standing desks replace traditional desks in every classroom in Walpole, especially at their high price point. However, it is not unreasonable to suggest administrators investigate ways to make the school day less sedentary. Many schools across the world have made changes to their school, and Walpole could be next in line. The schedule could be altered to give students more breaks from sitting by extending passing time to allow students to move around between classes, giving students the option to walk with friends during lunch or their study period, or encouraging teachers to test out new ways to run their class that don’t involve sitting, such as implementing more comfortable seating options. These small changes can have a huge impact on students now and evidently for the rest of their lives.