Preprint / Version 1

Breaking sedentary behaviour among university students

Benefits of incorporating cycling desks concurrently with an academic learning task at light, but not moderate, intensity


  • François Dupont Université de Montréal
  • Frédéric Oliva
  • Louis Pitois
  • Miguel Chagnon
  • Roseane Guimaraes
  • Marie-Eve Mathieu Université de Montréal



cycling desk , mental workload, academic performance


Introduction: Physical activity (PA) can enhance physical and mental health, with implications for academic performance. Method: This randomized crossover trial aimed to assess the effects of different intensities of PA using cycling desks on mental workload, anxiety and academic performance in university students (n=24). Participants underwent sedentary (SED), low-intensity (CDLPA), and moderate-intensity (CDMPA) cycling desk conditions during an academic task across three sessions. The task involved watching a 30-minute video followed by a written exam. We measured perceived workload and anxiety post-video and post-exam with NASA-TLX and POMS-SF, respectively, while Tobii glasses 2 were used to measure selective visual attention during the video. Result: Significant interactions between condition and time for the perceived workload (p<0.001; n2=0.444) and a time effect for anxiety (p=0.015; n2=0.174). Notably, CDMPA led to a higher perceived workload during the video compared to SED and CDLPA. We also observed differences in selective visual attention and exam scores between conditions (p<0.001 and p=0.009, respectively), favouring SED and CDLPA over CDMPA. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that CDLPA use can increase PA in students and offer academic benefits, whereas CDMPA results in higher mental load without anxiety benefits. Therefore, low-intensity cycling desks increase PA without disrupting learning processes.


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