We compared the effects of traditional (stable) and non-traditional (dynamic) school furniture on children's physical activity (PA), energy expenditure (EE), information retention, and math skills. Participants were 12 students (8.3 years, 58 % boys) in grades 1-5. Participants wore an Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer (to assess PA), and an Oxycon Mobile indirect calorimetry device (to assess EE) for 40 min (20 min for each session). Each session consisted of a nutrition lecture, multiple choice questions related to the lecture, and grade-appropriate math problems. We used paired t tests to examine differences between the stable and dynamic furniture conditions. Average activity counts were significantly greater in the dynamic than the stable furniture condition (40.82 vs. 9.81, p < 0.05). We found no significant differences between conditions for average oxygen uptake (p = 0.34), percentage of nutrition questions (p = 0.5), or math problems (p = 0.93) answered correctly. Movement was significantly greater in the dynamic than the stable furniture condition, and did not impede information acquisition or concentration. Future studies should compare the long-term effects of traditional and dynamic furniture on health and academic outcomes in schools and other settings.
Keywords: Accelerometer; Energy expenditure; Ergonomics; Health promotion; Physical activity.