Chairs and desks for children and youngstersPrint
Ergonomics: a vitally important topic for children and youngsters!
On their first day at school, children start both their academic and their sedentary career. They sit for an average of ten hours a day – including leisure time. International experts have little praise for the "workplaces" used today by children and youngsters at school and in their leisure time. There is also increasingly less space for movement and exercise. However, permanent sitting combined with a lack of exercise is particularly harmful to health. The growing body in particular is deprived of important movement stimuli that are vital for a balanced physical, spiritual and mental development. It is a basic fact: the greater the frequency and variety of exercise for youngsters, the more beneficial this will be to their complex development processes. It is also a basic fact that school-age children are sitting for ever longer periods. But more sitting time also demands more sitting quality.
Growing youngsters have a vital urge to move.
Most conventional chairs and desks have no height adjustment, particularly in schools. Frequently the chairs have a rigid seat area which leads to static sitting with subsequent sagging of the upper body ("C-posture"). Combined with a straight desk surface without any slant, this can result in unfavourable postures with complex consequences for the health.
The bodies of growing youngsters are particularly prone to inappropriate stresses so that it is particularly important for high quality standards to be heeded here. Chairs and desks must take due account of the changes in body proportions as the children grow and mature. On the other hand, they must also comply with the living demands of complex developing functions. Living, interacting physical, mental and psychic functions depend on regular exercise and regular changes in posture during the years of growth, also when sitting. Chairs have to fulfil special properties for such "active sitting" so as to constantly and effectively support the natural posture changes according to specific activities, rather than imposing constricting restraints.
The human body is created for movement (change in posture) to keep body and mind active.
This is illustrated by the natural "sitting unrest" that can so often be observed in children. When children fidget around on the chairs or tilt them back and forwards, in most cases this is simply a sign of a healthy and spontaneous urge to move, even if adults usually misunderstand this and frequently label such children as being hyperactive. But this is the intuitive way that youngsters fulfil their physical needs to give sufficient support to their complex development processes. Such "active sitting" (variable, subconscious change in sitting positions) ensures that the interacting vital physical, mental and psychic functions of the human body unfold spontaneously and are not suppressed. The sitting behaviour of children can teach us about the necessary attributes of ergonomic seats and chairs that are designed not just according to body size but also according to the living functions of the human body. We need seats and chairs that are made for moving and not for sitting still!
These are exactly the demands made of seats and chairs for use in school and leisure.
Chair and table must allow a sufficient, easily useable and wear-free height adjustment for all body heights. This can take place through an adjustment in steps or even better infinitely variable. Alternatively active chairs for children should be available in different seat heights, from which the matching chair can be selected.
The chair must have dynamic attributes that provide continuous, effective support for the natural posture changes according to specific activities, rather than imposing constricting restraints. This means that the sitting functions also autonomously support the necessary sitting angle for different tasks. A free-flowing seat area is the focal component. The living organism is in a relationship to the chair. The chair and the spontaneously self-organised behavioural demands of the user constitute a system.
Various technical solutions are available for practical (seated) use, such as the skid frame (Moizi chair) or special sitting mechanisms (VS chair, moll chair, Aeris-Swoppster) which support the various sitting variations and sitting needs:
- Active sitting in the front (working) position
- Passive sitting to relieve the spine in the rear (resting) position
- Flowing adjustment to the natural, intuitive posture changes of the body
Chair and desk as a unit
Physiological sitting posture is only possible if desk and chair form a unit.
To permit physiological posture of the head, the table must have a smoothly functioning tilt at an angle of at least 16°, together with a special device to prevent items from sliding off the surface.
To encourage repeated posture changes, it is also advisable to encourage a regular change between sitting and standing. This should be taken into account for furniture used both in school and in leisure.
For the completion of school work or even for painting, the desk must offer sufficient space. To ensure this, an area of approximately 90 x 60 cm (width times depth) should be available. If a PC is already in use, then the recommendation is to use a monitor with its own height adjustment, or to ensure that a separate adjustable monitor mount can be attached. This makes it easier to individually adjust the workstation and ensures a back-friendly working posture.
Health, wellbeing, alertness and concentration: ergonomic conditions and concepts are crucial.
The growing organism is characterised by complex development processes, shaped by the whole living environment, including school and leisure furniture. The demand for ergonomic furniture for children and youngsters may no longer be restricted to allowing for changes in body size. Life means movement. And this movement must be made possible even during longer sitting periods through natural, variable posture changes of which the user is unaware - this is active sitting.
Source: Dr. Dieter Breithecker, President of the Federal Consortium for Posture and Exercise e.V., Wiesbaden