How an active classroom can help combat childhood obesity

How an active classroom can help combat childhood obesity

Few public spaces are as important in shaping children’s futures as school classrooms. They play an important role in all aspects of a child’s development, including their physical wellbeing. According to a 2020 UK government report, around one third of children of primary school leaving age are over a healthy weight. Given that adults are advised to reduce sedentary behaviour at work to prevent negative health outcomes, it is important that the same principle be applied in schools. Classrooms should be redesigned to support improvements in physical health as well as learning. So how do you create a classroom that provides the best possible conditions for students? That’s where active school furniture comes in.

Good for both body and soul

The active learning classroom is based on the premise that physical activity affects brain activity, that movement and learning are closely linked, and that changing your working position regularly improves concentration. Moreover, alternating between sitting and standing improves muscle strength, balance and blood circulation. This means that an active classroom has both mental and physical benefits. Think 1+1=3.

Read more about the benefits of physical activity

Children sitting at desks in the classroom using wobble stools and Pilates balls

Standing desks to support wider movement

Sit-stand desks offer students the possibility to decide for themselves if and when to switch between sitting and standing. The variety this provides prevents repetitive strain and helps them maintain focus on their work rather than fidgeting. An alternative is to combine standard desks with high tables for use when working on group projects. The students can then choose a different setup depending on the lesson or task. This teaches kids that movement can be a normal part of the working day, a lesson they can take with them as they grow up and move into the world of work.

Sit-stand classroom desks

Girl sitting backwards on a chair and working at a desk
wobble stool
Motion stool UP

Active sitting chairs to encourage productive fidgeting

There's nothing wrong with sitting down per se, but it's important not to sit all the time. Because everyone has their own unique sitting style, choosing school chairs that allow students to sit facing forward or backwards on the seat and rock slightly as they sit is an effective way to ensure they are sitting comfortably. Balance stools are another way to keep kids moving while seated at their desks. This type of seat works the core muscles to improve posture and forces students to use their legs to stay steady. The body undertakes this small amount of movement subconsciously and the fidgeting effect suits many children who struggle to sit completely still during lessons.

Pedal exerciser in use

Simple exercise equipment to provide an outlet for high energy levels

Many students find it hard to sit still in the classroom and burning off excess energy through increased physical activity can improve their learning ability. Giving students the opportunity to use a desk bike or pedal exerciser is a simple way to boost activities levels while contributing to a calmer classroom atmosphere. It means restless pupils have a proper outlet for energy that would otherwise get them into trouble or distract the rest of the class. Moreover, it allows them to focus better on the lesson. Such products are easy to wipe down and share between students.

Desk exercise bike

Whiteboards for group work

Standing up boosts cooperation, so is great for group projects. The results of the group work can be compiled on a whiteboard.In addition to reporting their ideas, this also allows the different groups to draw inspiration and learn from each other. When students use writing boards, it is also easier for the teacher to monitor their progress and check which students need help.

Students working at a whiteboard
Hanging acoustic cylinders

Don't forget acoustics

When classroom activity intensifies, noise levels tend to do the same, so ceiling- and wall-mounted acoustic panels are a smart investment. Sofas, screens and thick curtains can also make a huge improvement, as can desks with sound-dampening tops. Carpets are also great sound absorbers, while giving students the option to work lying down. This might not sound very active, but it encourages them to vary their work position – a cornerstone of active classrooms!

Classroom whiteboard with a time keeping clock on it

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