Promoting Student Well-Being: Ergonomic and Comfortable Outdoor Seating

promoting student well-being

| Dec 4, 2023

Colleges and universities have many responsibilities toward their students, from providing the best academic opportunities to supporting their mental and physical wellness. Part of creating a conducive environment for learning, relaxing and socializing is ensuring seating is comfortable and accessible.

By implementing ergonomic design principles on campus, educational institutions can bring a blend of form and function, even to the outdoors. In this post, we’ll discuss how installing the right outdoor seating for students can positively impact student health and academic performance.

What Is Ergonomic Seating?

Ergonomics is the study of people’s physical efficiency in their environment. When referring to furniture, ergonomics pertains to designs with the aim of providing optimal comfort and productivity. Ergonomic seating usually comes with at least one of the following specially designed characteristics that help with better posture:

  • Backrests
  • Armrests
  • Seat height
  • Cushioning
  • Supportive surfaces

The Importance of Ergonomic and Comfortable Outdoor Furniture for Universities

Students spend a lot of time seated while they study, eat and work. During these times, they may move outside for a change of environment or to break away from overcrowded buildings.

Unfortunately, many outdoor seats on campuses were not designed to fit the body for maximum comfort or reduce pressure on joints when seated. As a result, students can experience a range of physical and mental health impacts.

Outdoor Seating for Students’ Physical Health

Ergonomic outdoor furniture is about more than simply providing comfortable campus benches. Designing relaxing outdoor seating areas for students can decrease various physical health issues among students. Ergonomic seating helps with:

  • Good posture: Your body feels comfortable and supported.
  • Spine support: The spine, shoulders and hips are aligned, providing a natural position for your joints and reducing body pains.
  • Moving space: Being able to shift positions minimizes pressure on nerves and joints.
  • Comfort: The right ergonomics prolong the time students can sit comfortably outdoors.
  • Musculoskeletal issues: Proper working posture and ergonomic seating can reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders in students.
  • Long-term health: With good posture, there’s a lower chance of developing poor circulation, headaches, digestive problems and jaw pain.

Outdoor Seating for Students’ Mental Health

Ergonomic outdoor seating can also help students with their psychological and academic well-being in the following ways:

  • Motivation: Having ergonomic seats positively affects students’ motivation to study.
  • Productivity: When students have comfortable seats, it enhances their concentration, focus and productivity.
  • Student engagement: Well-designed outdoor seating and study areas can increase socialization during group study sessions and learning outcomes.

well-designed outdoor study areas can increase socialization and learning

Design Principles for Ergonomic and Comfortable Outdoor Seating

There are three main design principles to take into account when planning outdoor seating solutions for campuses.

1. Consider Key Ergonomic Factors

Ergonomic seats used outside should provide relief and support for the back, neck and arms as much as possible.

  • Seat height: Ideally, you should be able to place your feet flat on the floor when sitting. It’s a good idea to place chairs and benches of different heights around campus to accommodate various body types.
  • Seat width: If the seat is too narrow and you find yourself sitting too far forward, it may put pressure on the back of your knees.
  • Back and lumbar support: A backrest should support the lower back as much as the upper back to reduce the pressure on the spinal cord and muscles.
  • Armrests: Armrests help allow the shoulders and upper body to relax. In areas where students are likely to study and write or type on tables, it’s recommended to use chairs without armrests.

2. Enhance Comfort in Outdoor Seating

There are a few ways to add extra comfort to outdoor seating, depending on the furniture styles you choose for your campus.

  • Seat cushioning: Cushions and pillows can provide extra support and flexibility for the back and lumbar and make couches or chairs more comfortable.
  • Breathable materials: Choose furniture with breathable materials to make it comfortable to sit in all kinds of weather.
  • Mobility:¬†Seating made of lightweight material allows for easy movement and rearrangement according to students’ needs and preferences.

3. Keep Durability and the Weather in Mind

When looking for any type of outdoor campus furniture, you should consider the weather in your area. The materials the furniture is made of should be weather-resistant and last long enough without fading, rusting, corroding or losing ergonomic features. Outdoor furniture pieces are usually made of low-maintenance and durable materials like aluminum, stainless steel, teak and UV-resistant synthetic fibers.

Implementation Strategies for Outdoor Campus Furniture

The right kind of outdoor campus furniture can enhance how much students enjoy being outside and interacting with classmates outside of the classroom. Architects and landscape designers can collaborate with site managers to incorporate different ergonomic seating styles that accommodate various seating preferences and group sizes.

Two strategies to incorporate include:

Find Outdoor Campus Furniture With Wabash Valley Furnishings

Supportive ergonomic seating placed around your college or university campus will encourage meaningful interactions among students while supporting their posture. As a result, you can provide students with a healthy and accessible way to enjoy the outdoors.

At Wabash Valley Site Furnishings, we provide high-quality, durable outdoor furniture options for a variety of industries, including colleges and universities. If you’re in search of outdoor furniture for your college, you can trust our decades of experience to help you find the right choices for your campus environment and student needs. Creating comforting campus outdoor areas is simple with our furniture solutions.

Browse our products today to get started. Questions? Fill out our contact form to get in touch with our team!

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