The Effects of Excessive Sitting in School

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Caucasian teenager studying in classroom

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Bonnie Horn, Staff writer

      The average American student goes to school for about six and a half hours a day, 180 days a year as reported by During those six and a half hours a day a student is in school, four and a half of those hours are spent sitting as proven by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That means that while a student is in school, they are sitting down for a staggering seventy percent of the time. Seventy percent. Excessive sitting in school affects academic performance, increases the likelihood of a student suffering from depression or anxiety, and can cause a lack of focus during school. 

   For most, excelling in academics is extremely important. In today’s world, making good grades are more important to students than ever, as college acceptance rates get slimmer and the competition gets massive. Sitting down for long periods of time causes students to suffer from mental fatigue, thus making students unable to fully take in the information that they are receiving. According to, a study was conducted at the University of Illinois that indicated that “students who exercised before a test achieved better results, and scans showed more activity in certain areas of the brain. It appears that exercise literally boosts brain function, allowing kids to perform at their best.”

    Secondly, when you are exercising, your body releases high amounts of a chemical known as serotonin which vastly improves your mood and causes feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Depression and anxiety do not occur solely on the lack of sufficient levels of serotonin, but studies conducted by Harvard Health have shown that low levels of serotonin is associated with depression and anxiety. This is why movement is crucial to the well being of a student. Depression and anxiety are serious mental illnesses and increasing the possibility of a student suffering from one or even both of these conditions should be prevented at all costs.

    Lastly, the excessive amount of sitting a student does throughout a school day can actually render a student unable to concentrate while in class. Being forced to be still for long periods of time can make a student agitated and restless, causing them to not be able to focus on the task before them or the lesson they are being taught. Pediatric Occupational Therapist Angela Hanscom states, “ Bodies aren’t designed for extended periods of sitting. In fact, none of our bodies are made to stay sedentary for lengths of time. This lack of movement and unrelenting sitting routine, are wreaking havoc on our bodies and minds.” Having to almost constantly remain seated whilst in school ruins a student’s ability to focus on what they are learning and causes students to not fully absorb the information that they are being taught, which deprives students from gaining any additional knowledge. 

    The unreasonable amount of sitting that occurs throughout a school day is extremely harmful to high school students, and it cannot continue. It affects a student’s potential at succeeding in school and having good mental health, which ultimately affects a students well being in general. All schools need to combat excessive sitting by implementing periods of time throughout a school day that a student can move and get some exercise. It can be as minuscule as stretching before a test or increasing the amount of time of a passing period, so students can take the longer way to class. Some schools, such as Madison Middle School, are even issuing pedometers to students and have created a competition to see who can get the most steps. The point is, some form of action needs to be taken to get some action into a student’s school days. If not, students will just continue to suffer in their seats. 


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