The next time someone tells you to stop fidgeting, just tell them you're doing it for your health. A new study has found that fidgeting may counteract the negative health effects of sitting, which is great news for those of us who are stuck behind a desk most of the day.
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Researchers have become more convinced that prolonged sitting is harmful to your health. Even daily bouts of exercise can't cancel out the negative health effects of sitting at a desk all the time. But a new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that women who sat for extended periods but rated themselves as moderately or very fidgety had a lower mortality rate than their sedentary peers.
The research is based on self-reported data from 12,000 women over a 12-year period who answered questions about their diets, exercise patterns, alcohol consumption, lifestyle habits and fidgeting tendencies. They also reported on their overall health, body weight and health issues. The age range of the women was 39 to 65.
Adding to research that points to sitting as the new smoking, this study also noted a link between prolonged periods of sitting and mortality. Women who sat for more than seven hours a day had a 43 percent higher mortality rate than those who sat for five hours or less.
But when fidgeting was added into the equation, the numbers looked very different.
There was no difference in mortality between women who sat for five hours or less and those who sat for seven or more, as long as those prolonged sitters were also fidgeters.
Why? That's a good question and one that the researchers don't have an answer for. It could be that fidgeting causes just enough of a bump in metabolism to offset the sedentary nature of sitting.
If you're stuck behind a desk at work, the best thing you can do is take intermittent breaks to walk around and stretch. But when that's not possible, a quick fidget might just do the trick.
So go ahead and move around. You might just be fidgeting your way to better health.
And if you're not a fidgeter by nature, try these exercises you can do in your chair to break up the monotony of sitting still.