Background: There is emerging literature that standing desk interventions may help to improve cognitive performance in school-aged children. The current study examines how desks that promote standing affect cognition over the course of a school year in third, fourth, and sixth graders. Methods: Nighty-nine students between the ages of 8 and 12 (M = 10.23; 58% Male) were assigned to either stand-biased desks or traditional sitting desks. A within-classroom design was used with students switching desks after 9 weeks. Cognitive assessments and teacher behavioral ratings were administered at baseline and readministered before students switched desks and at the conclusion of the study. Results: There were no significant effects on cognition or behavioral ratings from standing-biased desk intervention. Grade significantly moderated the relationship between stand-biased desks and cognition in that third graders showed increased cognitive control (p = 0.02, f2 = 0.06). Further, sex moderated the relationship in that females at stand-biased desks showed increased cognitive control (p = 0.03, f2 = 0.04). Conclusions: These results suggest that stand-biased desks impact cognition depending on grade and sex, indicating a complex relationship that should be teased out further in future research. Stand-biased desks showed moderate improvements in cognition and no deleterious effects, suggesting that they may be a helpful classroom intervention for children in elementary school.
Keywords: children; cognitive function; development; school; sedentary behavior; standing.