With the work of a campus student group, students can now stand and study at any library at the University of Alberta.
On September 26, the Students Invested in Health Association (SIHA) launched their standing desk initiative, which aims to keep students active while they are studying. The standing desks can be adjusted by height so that students using it are able to stand while studying. There is at least one desk at every library on campus, and two desks at Cameron, Rutherford, and Health Sciences libraries.
SIHA is a student group on campus that aims to educate and assist people in primary health care and to create community-based health projects. Since 2016 — Sara Fulmore, kinesiology graduate and local projects manager with SIHA, has been researching the negative effects that sitting all day can do to a person, such as premature mortality and diabetes.
“Being that we sit all the time, there should be an option for students to stand especially when studying, so that’s where the standing desk initiative came about,” Fulmore said. “We thought students are so sedentary, we should really look towards making a change.”
To purchase the desks, SIHA contributed $5,000 earned from a casino fundraiser the group holds every two years. The rest of the cost was covered by the U of A libraries.
Fulmore said while standing to study for a long period of time can seem daunting, there are benefits to doing so. She added that when standing, people use more of their postural muscles and tend to do more small movements.
“Standing every day you actually burn more calories, you’re fidgeting more, you’re being more active,” she said. “Being upright and moving around and such will help you think better, help you concentrate more, help you be able to study for a longer period of time.”
Fulmore added that since standing for an extended amount of time can be new to many people, SIHA included active sitting chairs at each of the desks on campus. The chair forces people to use some of their postural muscles so people end up not completely sitting like they would in a normal chair, and would allow students to build up their ability to stand for longer periods of time.
“The the only thing is [that] might hurt your feet. Other than that it’s very adjustable [so] it can cater to basically all heights of people,” Fulmore said. “[But] if you’re very very tall it might be too short for you.”
Following the standing desk initiative, SIHA’s next project will be tackling cannabis awareness on campus. Meanwhile, Fulmore hopes the implementation of new standing desks will help foster an active campus environment.
“The important thing is trying to encourage students to try standing instead of sitting and create a healthier campus where students are more active.”