To stand or not to stand?
If you were to walk around various offices at Western, you may notice that the incorporation of desks with adjustable heights have become more common. Recent studies show they could be beneficial not only for faculty and staff, but for students as well.
Dr. Joseph Mercola cites the study “Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School” by the National Academies Press on his website.
Students may do poorly academically and have low self-esteem from sitting and being inactive for extended periods of time. The periods of inactivity also affect brain efficiency, especially while reading and doing math, according to the study.
Lori deKubber, clinical athletic trainer at the Student Health Center, would love to see students at Western using standing desks, she said in an email.
The desks can positively affect someone’s posture by putting people in positions that are less stressful to the body and will strengthen postural muscles, deKubber said. However, someone’s workstation must be fit to their lifestyle and movements or it may not benefit them at all.
“Here at Western, I see many students who spend much of their day in “unhealthy” postures. This may include sitting in class, using a computer (especially laptops), personal device use, gaming and perhaps at a job,” deKubber said.
In this case, deKubber said she recommends that for every hour in any of these unhealthy postures, students should strive for an hour in an upright or moving posture, such as standing or walking.
An exception to her recommendation is if someone has arthritic joints, because the more time spent standing would not necessarily benefit them, she said.
“I would like to see student’s work spaces more ergonomically sound,” deKubber said. Ergonomics is the science and practice of customizing, or fitting, living and working environments to the people using them, she said.
“For the student, this “fitting” helps reduce stresses and strains on the body which may be related to school work and personal device use,” deKubber said.
“I think when you move around it’s definitely more engaging, it’s more active,” sophomore Ebony Harris said. “It gives you something to do while you’re listening.”
Yet, she also said that she would not want to be standing all day and would want the option to sit down eventually.
Staff member Bruce Boyer uses a sit and stand desk, and said given how many jobs have become tied to the computer, he feels that any movement and change of position that can be mixed into the day is of benefit to the body.
Standing all day has its own physical concerns, he said.
“I think when you move around it’s definitely more engaging, it’s more active. It gives you something to do while you’re listening.”
Sophomore Ebony Harris
“The goal is change of position. Think of sitting in a car for a long drive. No matter how comfortable the car you will be stiff and sore at the end if you don’t stop and get out once in awhile,” Boyer said in an email.
Sit and stand desks could benefit students depending upon the nature of their studies, Boyer said.
“If their studies require long hours at the computer, change of position is needed,” he said in an email.
If a student were to set up their own standing workstation, deKubber recommends that the keyboard height be the distance from the floor to your bent elbow when either sitting or standing, she said.
The height of the table or desk should be one to two inches below the keyboard height and the top monitor should be at a eye position with its distance being no more than an arms reach away, deKubber said.
For these recommendations, a desktop computer works best, deKubber said. “With a laptop, one is either compromising their head/neck position or their arm position described about.”
If a laptop is being used, then a separate keyboard can solve the issues.
At Western, posture and ergonomic assessments are offered to students who get referrals for them from the Student Health Center, deKubber said.