Colonel Gray High School students give standing desks a try

Some students at Colonel Grey High School in Charlottetown, P.E.I. are taking a stand in the classroom — not in protest — but at their desks.

Standing desks better for students' health and 'it's more fun'

Teacher Rob MacDonald explains why some of his Colonel Grey High School students have the option of using standup desks in class. 0:47

Some students at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown, P.E.I. are taking a stand — not in protest — but in the classroom, where they have the option of using standing desks.

"We talk a lot about the childhood obesity crisis and how kids aren't active, then we bring them to school and sit them down for six hours a day and then send them on their way," said teacher Rob MacDonald.

"There's got to be a better way to be active while you're learning so we got into some research about standup desks." 

MacDonald and a colleague extended the legs of a few standard-size desks using PVC pipe, nuts and a few bolts.

Students in Rob MacDonald's Colonel Gray High School class have the option of sitting or standing at their desks. (CBC)

"I have long legs, so it's hard to sit down for too long because you want to stretch a lot. So it's nice to be able to stand. It kind of like, keeps you more focused almost," said student Joe Thomson.

Although the majority of desks in MacDonald's classroom are of the standing variety, students can still choose to sit if they want.

There's no hard evidence that a higher desk leads to higher marks, but student Riley Hume says it helps him.

"I think it makes my marks go up a little bit because it's more fun in the classroom."

Travis Saunders, a researcher at the University of Prince Edward Island, has just completed research on the health benefits of standing desks.

UPEI researcher Travis Saunders says not only back health improves with standing desks. (CBC)

Studies indicate standing at a desk burns more calories than sitting and Saunders tracked 25 individuals over three months to determine if there are any other health benefits.

"It's much better for your back to at least be able to move up and down when you want to and not be stuck sitting all the time," said Saunders.

"It's also much better for your metabolic health, your blood sugar levels, your insulin levels."

As the higher desks are popping up in schools across Canada, MacDonald is open to sharing his ideas with other teachers.

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