Background: Research shows that students who
are more active throughout the day have fewer reports of body part discomfort
and greater energy expenditure needed to combat childhood obesity. Many
factors may contribute to the overall health of the child, including the postures
that are required to complete assigned tasks at their school workstations.
Decreasing sedentary behaviors in children through the use of standing desks at
school has been shown to increase calorie expenditure and may be a viable
approach to the energy imbalance typical of modern children. The objective of
this research was to quantify and analyze sub-optimal postures and
self-reported discomfort of students during the use of traditional seated and
stand-biased desks to determine whether any unintended consequences of the
intervention were present. Methods: A postural analysis based on the Portable Ergonomic
Observation (PEO) method was used to assess the posture of 42 elementary school
students as they worked at their assigned workstation (either standing or
seated). Two classrooms contained stand-biased workstations (15 students) and
two classrooms had traditional seated workstations (27 students). Each
student was assessed three times at 10 minutes, for a total of 30 minutes of observations
each. The percent of time spent in preferred versus non-preferred postures was
then computed. Student body part discomfort surveys were used to assess the
discomfort of students between the two groups. The relationship between type
of workstation and percent time in non-preferred postures and body discomfort
was examined using Wilcoxon ranksum tests and Fisher’s exact tests, respectively.
The significance level was p ≤ 0.05
for all of the two-sided tests. Results:
No significant difference was found between the two groups and time spent in
non-preferred postures and body discomfort, children using stand-biased workstations
reported less discomfort overall. Stand-biased desks presented no additional ergonomic issues, while providing increased caloric expenditure. Conclusions: A
study containing a larger sample and older children that includes postural
observation throughout the school day is needed for future research.
Cite this paper
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