Sedentary behaviour (sitting) is a risk factor for adverse health outcomes. The classroom environment has traditionally been associated with prolonged periods of sitting in children. The aim of this study was to examine the potential impact of an environmental intervention, the addition of sit-stand desks in the classroom, on school children's sitting and physical activity during class time and after school. The 'Stand Out in Class' pilot trial was a two-arm cluster randomised controlled trial conducted in eight primary schools with children from a mixed socioeconomic background. The 4.5 month environmental intervention modified the physical (six sit-stand desks replaced standard desks) and social (e.g., teachers' support) environment. All children wore activPAL and ActiGraph accelerometers for 7 days at baseline and follow-up. In total 176 children (mean age = 9.3 years) took part in the trial. At baseline, control and intervention groups spent more than 65% of class time sitting, this changed to 71.7% and 59.1% at follow-up, respectively (group effect p < 0.001). The proportion of class time spent standing and stepping, along with the proportion of time in light activity increased in the intervention group and decreased in the control group. There was no evidence of any compensatory effects from the intervention after school. Incorporating sit-stand desks to change the classroom environment at primary school appears to be an acceptable strategy for reducing children's sedentary behaviour and increasing light activity especially during class time. Trial registration: ISRCTN12915848 (registered: 09/11/16).
Keywords: after school; children; cluster randomised controlled trial; health inequalities; primary/elementary school; sedentary behaviour; standing desks.