Classroom Standing Desks and Sedentary Behavior: A Systematic Review

Pediatrics. 2016 Feb;137(2):e20153087. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3087. Epub 2016 Jan 22.


Context: Reducing sedentary behaviors, or time spent sitting, is an important target for health promotion in children. Standing desks in schools may be a feasible, modifiable, and acceptable environmental strategy to this end.

Objective: To examine the impact of school-based standing desk interventions on sedentary behavior and physical activity, health-related outcomes, and academic and behavioral outcomes in school-aged children.

Data sources: Ovid Embase, Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Global Health, and CINAHL.

Study selection: Full-text peer-reviewed journal publications written in English; samples of school-aged youth (5-18 years of age); study designs including the same participants at baseline and follow-up; and use of a standing desk as a component of the intervention.

Data extraction: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines.

Results: Eight studies satisfied selection criteria and used quasi-experimental (n = 4), randomized controlled trial (n = 3), and pre-post, no control (n = 1) designs. When examined, time spent standing increased in all studies (effect sizes: 0.38-0.71), while sitting time decreased from a range of 59 to 64 minutes (effect sizes: 0.27-0.49). Some studies reported increased physical activity and energy expenditure and improved classroom behavior.

Limitations: One-half of the studies had nonrandomized designs, and most were pilot or feasibility studies.

Conclusions: This initial evidence supports integrating standing desks into the classroom environment; this strategy has the potential to reduce sitting time and increase standing time among elementary schoolchildren. Additional research is needed to determine the impact of standing desks on academic performance and precursors of chronic disease risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior
  • Child, Preschool
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Equipment and Supplies*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity
  • Posture*
  • Schools*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Students*