Kids take a stand
Chairs pushed aside in the war against obesity
STUDENTS across the state will ditch their school chairs and stand more to beat obesity.
Cutting the time spent sitting by just 30 minutes a day has a big effect on health and academic results, Deakin University researchers have found.
In a 2ó year trial of 1600 students in 20 schools, children stood at easels and took two minute movement breaks every half-hour. They also stood for a 30-minute lesson each day.
The pilot scheme was deemed so successful, the university team was awarded a $550,000 grant to introduce it to all schools statewide.
Professor Jo Salmon, co-director of Deakin’s Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, said they wanted to reach 40 per cent of Victorian children by 2020. She said children in the pilot did an hour extra of activity at recess and lunch and spent 2.8 hours less time sitting each week.
“With that additional activity, we saw improvements in the children’s Body Mass Index, waist circumference, cholesterol levels, and improved levels of vitamin D,” Prof Salmon said. “Increased activity also has benefits for cognitive outcomes, including scholastic performance, class behaviour and mental health.”
The Transform-Us! program increased activity, with circus equipment in classrooms, timers to monitor sitting and ideas such as walking for geography homework.
Warranwood Primary assistant principal Shane Harrop said the school had embraced the initiatives after the pilot. Stand-up desks and five-minute lesson breaks for ball games, running or circuits are among the changes it has introduced. “We have a range of different furniture kids can choose from, they can sit on the floor and wiggle around or sit on benchtops or use the standing stations,” Mr Harrop said.
The next phase involves Independent Schools Victoria, VicHealth, the Education Department, Victorian Principals’ Association, The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation and Peak PhysEd.
Featured image: Warranwood Primary School students (left to right) Kieran and Emma at a stand-up desk. Picture: TIM CARRAFA
Author: Elissa Doherty
Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne Sunday 17th July, 2016