Effect of Standing versus Sitting on Executive Functioning and Creativity of Vocational Education and Training Students

P.J. Luteijn, I.S.M. van der Wurff, Amika Singh, Hans Savelberg, R.H.M. de Groot

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic


Research suggests that breaking up sedentary behavior (SB), can positively influence executive functions (EF) and creativity (CREA), as several brain mechanisms are stimulated by light physical activity such as standing. Two out of five adolescents in the Netherlands are enrolled in vocational education and training (VET) education. In general, the SB levels are high in adolescents in VET students. As stimulating EF and CREA is important for their academic performances, our aim is to investigate the effect of breaking up sitting time by standing during class on EF and CREA in VET students.
Two randomized controlled cross-over studies were conducted with respectively 165 (EF study; mean age 18.8 years, SD = 7.9) and 192 VET students (CREA study; mean age 18.2 years, SD = 1.7), allocated to either a sitting or standing condition. The students were taught for 15 minutes after which they performed in the EF study the Letter Memory Test and the Color Shape Test, to measure updating, shifting and inhibition, respectively. In the CREA study, the students performed the Guilford’s Alternate Uses Test for divergent thinking and the Remote Associates Test for convergent thinking. Subsequently, the conditions were switched and the procedure was repeated after one week in the EF study and immediately in the CREA study.
Mixed model analyses showed no effect of standing on updating (B = .50, SEb = .50, 95% CI = -.49; 1.50), shifting (B = -10.48, SEb = 14.61, 95% CI = -39.41; 18.46), or inhibition scores (B = 2.31, SEb = 10.64, 95% CI = -18.77; 23.39). Neither effects of standing on divergent thinking (B = -0.06, SEb = 0.22, 95%CI = -0.49; 0.38), or convergent thinking (B = -0.20, SEb = 0.15, 95%CI = -0.56; 0.03) were found.
It can be concluded that short-time standing during class has no acute beneficial effect on the EF of VET students, nor on their CREA. Future research should investigate the effect of a more prolonged duration of standing on EF and CREA in VET students.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021
EventISBNPA XChange 2021: Thinking independently together – Let’s dance around the world! - Online, Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 8 Jun 202110 Jun 2021


ConferenceISBNPA XChange 2021
Internet address


  • standing desks
  • breaking up sitting behavior
  • divergent thinking
  • convergent thinking
  • executive functions


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