There’s some good news for students who hate sitting down in class, as a recent study has shown that standing desks may improve both physical health and cognitive performance. The study focused on 27 Texas high school freshmen over the course of one school year. Overall, it was found that standing desks improved the scores of tests that focused on reasoning and working memory by somewhere between 7% and 14%
The study was led by Texas A&M School of Public Health researcher Ranjana Mehta. Many schools have been known to use standing desks to encourage both movement and the burning of calories to combat obesity. Mehta believed the desks could be some mental benefits for the students as well. In the end, there was definitely some evidence supporting this belief.
In order to conduct the study, Mehta and the team tested the students in both the fall and spring semesters. The tests consisted of a series of five exams that evaluated the students’ quick decision making, reasoning, working memory, cognitive strategy and cognitive flexibility. The team also made use of a portable brain imaging device in order to assess the brain activity of the students during testing.
The researchers found that using standing desks generally improved cognitive functions. The brain images also suggested that there was increased activity in the left prefrontal cortex of the students. This area of the brain is generally associated with working memory and executive functioning.
However, there were some limitations to the study. For instance, the study was quite small and there was no sort of control group. The researchers are recommending that a larger and more controlled study be conducted in the future.
Still, their findings are promising, and they could encourage more schools to adopt standing desks. Also the researchers say that they would like to look at the standardized test scores of the students to see if the improved cognitive functioning indeed translates to real world success.