FitDesks for Finals: Movement and its Benefit on Grades Cashman, J. M., Diaz, E., Harrill, P. S., Hulett, T. L., Soman, A. K., Spencer, J. H., Morris, D. M. & Pilcher, J. J.

Meet the Team!

Introduction

  • An emerging field of research indicates that physical activity can benefit cognitive functions and academic achievements in children (Beck, et al.).
  • A single acute bout of moderate aerobic exercise improves cognitive performance (Drollette, et al.).
  • Using FitDesks while completing various tasks results in an increase level of positive affect and does not negatively affect complex cognitive performance (Pilcher & Baker).
  • Level of intrinsic motivation is positively related to physical activity (Aung, et al.).

The purpose of this study was to determine if riding a FitDesk while studying had an effect on academic performance.

There are various types of FitDesks. Some examples include the FitDesk elliptical (left) and the classic FitDesk (right). The classic FitDesk was used for this study.

Methods

  • 61 Clemson University students (33 males, 28 females) with a mean age of (19.21± 1.68 years).
  • Participants studied at assigned desk for a minimum of 2 hours per week on at least 2 separate days for 8 weeks.
  • Sign in and out of the library study room using QR codes.
  • Each student completed a pre-survey and post-survey which were composed of various scales regarding mental health, happiness, sleep quality, motivation, and physical activity.
  • Researchers had access to each participants' five introductory psychology exam scores from the semester.
  • Academic performance was assessed using the exam scores. We also assessed the participants' mental health using the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress scale found in the pre- and post-surveys.
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Results

  • The result of a 2(group) x 2(pre/post) ANOVA indicated that mean introductory psychology exam scores for FitDesk users significantly increased from exam 1 to exam 5 (p = .011) while exam scores for traditional desk users from exam 1 to exam 5 remained constant (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Mean exam scores in Introduction to Psychology course for students’ first and last exams on both the FitDesk and traditional desk.
  • FitDesk participants were asked if the FitDesks were an incentive to go to the library more often based on a 5-point scale (5 being most likely to go to library more often, 1 being least likely). Results showed that more than 50% of the FitDesk participants rated a 4 or a 5 saying they used the FitDesks as an incentive to go to the library more often (Figure 2).
  • FitDesk participants were asked to rate their enjoyment using the FitDesks using a 5-point scale (5 being the most enjoyable, 1 being the least enjoyable). Results showed that more than 50% of the FitDesk participants rated their enjoyment of FitDesk usage as a 4 or a 5 (Figure 3).
Figures 2, 3:
  • The result of a 2(group) x 2(pre/post) MANOVA indicated that low-intensity movement while studying did not result in a significant change in depression, anxiety, or stress scores over the eight-week study (Figures 4, 5, 6).
Figures 4, 5, 6: Pre-survey and post-survey depression, anxiety, and stress scores for subjects on both the FitDesk and traditional desk.

Conclusions

  • Exam scores for the participants using the FitDesks significantly improved from exam one to exam five.
  • Exam scores for the participants using the traditional desks remained constant from exam one to exam five.
  • More than half of the FitDesk participants rated the FitDesks above average for using them as an incentive to go to the library more often and enjoyment.
  • Individuals on the FitDesks did not have a significant change in depression, anxiety, or stress compared to those on the traditional desks.
  • Future studies should increase hours required to study and if substantiated, these academic performance results could have a positive impact in classrooms everywhere!

Where to Find our FitDesks:

  • Cooper Library (1st, 3rd, and 6th floors)
  • Core Campus (National Scholars Room)
  • Brackett Hall (Atrium)
  • Vickery Hall (Study Rm. EEE)

Cashman, J. M., Diaz, E., Harrill, P. S., Hulett, T. L., Soman, A. K., Spencer, J. H., Morris, D. M. & Pilcher, J. J.

References

Aung, Myo Nyein, Juraiporn Somboonwong, Vorapol Jaroonvanichkul, and Pongsak Wannakrairot. 2016. "Possible link between medical students' motivation for academic work and time engaged in physical exercise." Mind, Brain, And Education 10, no. 4: 264-271. PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed March 28, 2017).

Beck, M. M., Lind, R. R., Geertsen, S. S., Ritz, C., Lundbye-Jensen, J., & Wienecke, J. (2016). Motor-enriched learning activities can improve mathematical performance in preadolescent children. Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, 10

Drollette, E., Scudder, M., Raine, L., Moore, R., Saliba, B., Pontifex, M. & Hillman, C. (2014). Acute Exercise Facilitate Brain Function and Cognition in Children Who Need it Most. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience (7), 53-64.

Pilcher, J. J. & Baker, V. C. (2016) Task Performance and Meta-Cognition Outcomes When Using Activity Workstations and Traditional Desks. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 957.

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