Benden Standing Desks

Public Health School receives first CDC Small Business Innovation Research Grant for Stand-biased Desks

October 24, 2013
Mark E. Benden, Ph.D.

Mark E. Benden, Ph.D.

Educators continue to work to find a balance between time for physical activity and class time, knowing that many students are not getting the level of daily physical activity they need. One of the most innovative approaches to this issue is the use of the stand-biased desk in classroom settings, which has been studied by researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health for the last several years.

A recent $1 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been awarded to Stand2Learn™, a Positive Motion, LLC company, including a $400,563 award to the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health. Mark E. Benden, Ph.D., CPE, associate professor, will serve as the lead researcher in the school’s continued work with the company and the Phase II implementation of the dynamic classroom model.

Monica Wendel, Dr.P.H.

Monica Wendel, Dr.P.H.

The stand-biased desk was developed in an effort to change the classroom environment and sustain children’s increased physical activity throughout the day. In Phase I, the study evaluated the impact of the stand-biased desks for elementary school students, grades 1st-4th. With the dynamic classroom model, children have the option to sit or stand during classroom instruction, enabling them to expend 30 percent more calories than students in a traditional classroom setting. Phase II will look at students grades 5th-12th and how well the impact translates from students in primary school to secondary education students.

“Stand-biased desks give students the maximum flexibility and allows for the most movement and postural variety when participating in a learning environment,” said Dr. Benden. “As more schools implement dynamic classrooms, the paradigm of seated instruction can potentially shift to one that is conducive to alertness and attentiveness while increasing passive calorie burn at the same time.”

Hongwei Zhao, Sc.D.

Hongwei Zhao, Sc.D.

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards are typically collaboration between industry members, government agencies and academia. They are designed to bring innovative products to market and stimulate the growth of small businesses. This is the first SBIR Phase II award for the Texas A&M School of Rural Public Health, and it will enable the expansion of this study as well as allow for the implementation of Positive Motion’s next generation of stand-biased desk designs into the classroom. Findings from this study could allow for new strategies to preventing childhood obesity as well as impacting state and national policies regarding the classroom environment.

Co-Investigators from the Texas A&M School of Public Health are Monica Wendel, Dr.P.H and Hongwei Zhao, Sc.D.


— Rae Lynn Mitchell

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