Do Standing Desks in Classrooms Improve Focus and Energy Levels in Students with ADHD?

April 8, 2024

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both adults and children. It is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Managing ADHD in children, especially within the school environment, is a challenging task for educators. In recent years, standing desks have gained popularity in classrooms as a potential tool to help ADHD students focus better and maintain their energy levels. But do they really work? This article delves deeper into this question, exploring a variety of studies and evidence on the subject.

The Concept of Standing Desks

Standing desks, as the name suggests, are desks designed for individuals to stand while working or studying. They have been used in various work environments to counter the ill-effects of prolonged sitting.

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In the context of a classroom, the use of standing desks is a relatively new trend. The rationale behind their introduction is primarily to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior among students. The idea is simple: by standing, students may be more engaged, attentive, and physically active.

For ADHD students, in particular, standing desks may offer an outlet for their excess energy, thus improving their focus and attention in class.

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Standing Desks and ADHD Students

ADHD students often struggle to stay focused during long periods of seated, sedentary class time. They may fidget, move around in their seats, or get up and walk around, disrupting their own learning and potentially that of others.

Consequently, the concept of a standing desk could be beneficial for ADHD students. A standing desk allows them to move more freely, which could help regulate their energy levels and increase their focus. According to a 2016 study published in the Journal of Education and Health, standing desks significantly reduced disruptive behavior problems in students with ADHD.

Furthermore, standing desks can also address the physical health concerns associated with prolonged sitting. Prolonged sitting has been linked to various health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.

The Impact on Health and Focus

Standing desks can have a notable impact on students’ health and focus, especially those with ADHD. A study published in PubMed found that children who stood during class time showed increased calorie expenditure, which is beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight.

As for focus, standing desks can augment classroom engagement. The physical act of standing can help to keep the brain alert and engaged. By allowing more freedom of movement, ADHD students might find it easier to concentrate on their studies. This is supported by a 2017 study in the Journal of Education that found an increase in academic engagement in classrooms with standing desks.

Implementing Standing Desks in the Classroom

Incorporating standing desks into a classroom isn’t as simple as replacing traditional desks. Certain factors need to be considered. First, standing for long periods can be tiring, especially for younger children. Therefore, adjustable desks that allow students to alternate between sitting and standing might be more beneficial.

Teachers should also consider the class layout. Standing desks are typically larger, which might require rearranging the classroom to ensure all students have adequate space. Additionally, if only certain students are given standing desks, it could inadvertently single out students with ADHD, which could lead to feelings of alienation or stigmatization.

Finally, standing desks are just one tool in the arsenal for managing ADHD in the classroom. They should be used in conjunction with other strategies, such as behavioral interventions, individualized instruction, and appropriate accommodations.


In conclusion, standing desks in classrooms can indeed improve focus and energy levels in students with ADHD. However, their implementation should be thoughtful and considerate, taking into account the potential challenges and combining it with other strategies for maximum effectiveness.

The Evidence: Scientific Studies on Standing Desks and ADHD

Scientific studies have been instrumental in providing substantial evidence on the benefits of standing desks for students with ADHD. One of the groundbreaking studies available on Google Scholar on this subject was conducted in 2018. The research, which involved a sample of ADHD students from different age groups, revealed that the use of sit-stand desks in classrooms led to a notable increase in the students’ physical activity levels and a significant decrease in their sedentary behavior.

Moreover, the data from this study demonstrated that the desks helped to improve the students’ focus and attentiveness during class. Similarly, another study accessible on PubMed highlighted the potential of standing desks to boost calorie burn in children. According to the PMC free article, standing rather than sitting during class time could lead to an additional expenditure of 25% more calories. This highlights another benefit of standing desks – helping to reduce the risk of obesity among students.

Also, researchers have found that standing desks provide a channel for the excess energy in ADHD students. This can help with their self-regulation, aiding them in maintaining their concentration during lessons. Moreover, these desks can alleviate some of the typical classroom issues associated with ADHD, such as disruptive behavior and fidgeting, as they allow students the freedom of movement needed to manage their energy levels.

Again, it’s crucial to note that while these studies point to the potential benefits standing desks could offer, each ADHD student’s experience could vary. Therefore, educators and caregivers should consider the unique needs and preferences of each student when implementing this tool.

Conclusion: Standing Desks – A Valuable Tool for ADHD Management

Although the implementation of standing desks in classrooms requires thoughtful planning, the benefits they potentially offer, particularly to students with ADHD, can’t be overlooked. The evidence provided by scientific studies, such as those on Google Scholar and PubMed, indicates that these desks help reduce sedentary behavior, increase physical activity levels, improve focus, and provide an outlet for excess energy in ADHD students.

However, it is crucial to remember that standing desks are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They represent one of many strategies that can be combined to create a supportive learning environment for students with ADHD. Other effective techniques include behavioral interventions, individualized instruction, and providing tailored accommodations.

The key to successfully managing ADHD in classrooms lies in creating a holistic approach that considers each student’s unique needs and abilities. Standing desks can play a significant role in this approach, contributing to an inclusive learning environment that promotes physical activity and focus, and minimizes the potential for disruption. Always remember that the ultimate goal is to foster a positive and effective educational experience for all students, including those with ADHD.