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Asking Students to Sit Still Can Have Dire Consequences

Sitting and limited activity can have detrimental effects on the elderly, but did you know that this can also have negative consequences for children too? What we are discovering is that excessive sedentary behavior has serious health ramifications at all ages, and one of the biggest culprits that breeds inactivity is school. 

Stuck seated motionless behind desks only to come home with a full agenda of homework, results in school children spending an average of 8.5 hours of their day sitting. In fact, sitting increases after age 8 when school, homework, and technology consumes their time. What's more, youngsters are continually asked to sit still, as movement is often labeled distracting to classmates as well as the teacher. These learners that wiggle and squirm in and out of their seats are often considered troublesome and some of these kinesthetic kids are even placed on ADHD medications to temper their excessive commotion and exuberance.
What are the Deleterious Effects of Sitting too Much on Kids?
  • Inactivity can result in a number of problems for school-age children:
  • Obesity: Sitting slows metabolic rate resulting in the diminished burning of calories.
  • Heart Disease: Sitting increases blood sugar and decreases the burning of fat.
  • Muscular Atrophy: Excessive sitting can cause ones muscles to degenerate.
  • Osteoporosis: Sitting can lead to poor bone density which is a precursor for osteoporosis.
  • Circulation: Sitting causes blood circulation to slow and blood can pool in the legs.
  • Inattention/lethargy: Sitting reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the brain resulting in a decline in cognitive performance.
What Can Teachers Do to Skirt a Sedentary Style?
  • Integrate activities into your lessons that allow students to get up and move around.
  • Encourage your students to get out of their seats at least once an hour and engage in a minute of exercise.
  • Provide adjustable desks for your students, so they have the option of standing or sitting on a tall stool. Many schools are now using standing desks with a foot swing. See image below.
  • Use sites like GoNoodle that offers kinesthetic brain breaks for young learners.
  • Get involved with organizations like Let’s Move and
Bringing movement into your classroom will only help you and your students to improve attention, retention, motivation and alertness; but regular activity will lead to better test scores, improved behavior, and the integration of healthy habits.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
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