This research intended to collecting first impressions and feelings of students and lecturers regarding the use of active workstations in a French university context. Students and lecturers were globally positive about such material, althought some pitfalls could have also been revealed.
First of all, one should remind that the targeted population, students and lecturers of a sport university, can be considered as open-minded regarding physical activity and are probably more likely to accept such experience. However, regularly practicing sport does not prevent to exhibit important amount of sedentary behaviors which are considered as independent risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases regardless of physical activity level 4,6,19. Indeed, regarding the sedentary time, despite the high level of physical activity of the participants, 81.7 % reported to spend 4 hours or more sitting in a day and 25 % more than 7 hours. It seems thus crucial to take action to modify the lifestyle habits associated with increased sedentary time (e.g. transportation, time at work, school, etc.).
For 35.4% of the participants, there was an increase in turbulence during the lecture with the active equipment. This can be explained by the "novelty" factor and it should be investigated whether this phenomenon persists with the increase in the utilization of this type of material. This can also explain the difficulty that lecturers reported to face when conducting their lecture. However, students as lecturers were unanimous regarding a decrease in distractions, such as using mobile phone or chatting with their partners. One could say that active material can represent a distraction itself, therefore it seems important to observe a period of familiarization with the material in order to optimize its long term implementation .
Further the experiment of the effects of active workstations on a daily basis could bring clues on a reduction in turbulences. The objective of active material is not necessarily to increase attention or concentration, but at least to not deteriorate it rather, while interrupting sendentary behaviors and/or increasing the level of physical activity. The results of the present survey show that this mission seemed to be accomplished for most of the students and types of active material. In the long term, maintaining the common model of passive sitting workstations contributes, in an involuntary way, to the alteration of the physical, psychological, social and cognitive health of students. It is thus crucial to modify this model and to enable students to learn in conditions that promote their success in terms of their personal skills and know-how in the short, medium and long term. Indeed, by their status, students are the bridge between adolescence and the adult world and are therefore characterized as the adults of tomorrow with an educational, cultural and health legacy to pass on. Therefore, the university has a real role to play in enabling the student to develop and succeed, but also to instill good working methods, and general lifestyles, for the rest of his or her life. Work habits acquired at school and during college are likely to persist during future employments. The actual situation seems at the exact opposite, since student are know to increase sedentary behaviors duing these periods? 20,21. Even worst, the daily sitting time has been shown to increase over the years of studies 22. Therefore, the objective of implementing this type of learning setup at early stages of life is also relevant to educate the future workers to healthier working habits, and overall, life habits.
Regarding the type of material plebiscited, cycling-desks and Swiss ball seemed the most populars. They were also the ones that provided less perceived fatigue and discomfort, while causing as little perturbation as possible on cognitive capacities. The fact that such material allows to stay sitting can explain such results, since maintaining the standing position at standing desks tends to increase discomfort in low back and legs. The use of pedal and stepper board was not plebiscited much, maybe also because they were only portable devices placed on the floor and the traditional chairs used were not ergonomically optimal to practice as compared to standing cycling. In order to optimize the implementation of any classroom material, it appears important to work beforehand on product ergonomy to adapt it to the specificity of classroom environment. Nonetheless, one of the important aspect regarding the implementation of such material at University remains the cost, each material habing to be purchased in large quantities. On that matter, even if cycling standing are optimal since they did not require servicing (such as Swiss ball that need regular reinflating) and are far the most popular material, they represent a very important cost.
To that aim, while keeping the standing position may tend to increase fatigue and discomfort, simply allowing the students to break sitting times by standing on a spontaneous basis can appear an interesting option. When offer the opportunity to stand during lectures, it was shown that the total time spontaneously spent standing was on average of 7.2 min per hour, even after a familiarization of several days 23. Therefore, although the use of specific materials such as sit-to-stand desks could increase this time by a little, this setup seems to provide a low amount of physical activity, and could not appear as the optimal solution. However, this type of solution appeared to have a great popularity over students 15,17. However, standing requires voluntary action that could also represent a break in attention and concentration and may simply be not automatized like pedaling, or maintaining balance on a Swiss-ball.
One of the main limit of the present study lied in the subjective evaluation of some characteristics such as physical activity level, physical and mental fatigue. However, the present study focused on analyse the feelings of students at a large scale, and lecturers, toward the acceptance of such type of classroom setup. An other important limit of the present study, preventing from generalizing to all type of students, was the great homogeneity of the population tested, which were already widely physically active and open-minded to sport (sport university students). This study was a pilot study and thus a first step toward more reluctant population, as it is known that some other populations of student are far less physically active 20. Having the same investigation lead in a population of less active students could bring relatively different results.
Finally, 89.4 % of students were in favor of using active material in future lectures if they had the possibility to, as well as 71% of lecturers, demonstrating the global acceptance of such material. This was in accordance with previous investigation reporting an important proportion of students (83%) and lecturers (87%) in favor of introducing sit-to-stand desks in the university classrooms of Midwestern university, USA 15. Yet, in this previous study only 2.8 % over a total population of 993 interviewed students already used this type of material, showing that this is far to be a commonly used tool. Considering the beneficial effect of the use of active material on health, by "breaking sedentary behaviors" which are major during the academic work, it seems appropriate to continue the development of this type of pedagogy. However, in order to perpetuate and optimize it, it is necessary to understand the feelings on the "physical" and "restlessness" aspects and to modify and/or adapt, if necessary, the implementation. The ultimate challenge is to find the optimal amount of physical activity, which allows to stay physically active while allocating sufficient cognitive ressources to follow the lecture. These results show us the importance of accompanying students and lecturers in the implementation of such a system, while noting both the difficulty of changing habits rooted in our lifestyles and the positive aspects of this pedagogy with a marked desire, both on the student and teacher sides, to perpetuate it.