We often associate the act of fidgeting with being restless, bored or even anxious, and generally isn’t the type of thing you want people to spot you doing (don’t you know it’s rude?). But according to new research, we all might want to fidget that little bit more.
The study which was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, revealed that those who shake, squirm and move around in their seat regularly were less likely to have an increase in early death.
The research examined data from the University of Leeds’ UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is one of the largest cohort studies of diet and health of women in the UK. By looking at the average daily sitting time, overall fidgeting, and things like physical activity, diet and smoking status of nearly 13,000 women aged 37 to 78, they were able to come up with some pretty interesting results.
What they found was that an increased risk of mortality from sitting down most of the day (for 7 hours or more) was associated with a 30 per cent rise in mortality risk only for those considered themselves low fidgeters. And for the fidgety people among us? Well, there was no addition mortality risk for middle and high frequency fidgeters.
It also didn’t seem to matter if the women were physically active outside of work. If they were still spending a large portion of their day sitting down, there was an increased risk of mortality, supporting the evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is really not great for your health.
“Our results support the suggestion that it’s best to avoid sitting still for long periods of time, and even fidgeting may offer enough of a break to make a difference,” said co-lead author Dr. Gareth Hagger-Johnson of University College London.
We’ve probably all heard that getting up every 20 minutes of the day is enough to help combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, but until now, no study has examined the role of fidgeting and the connection to sitting time and mortality rates.
Before we get too carried away, it’s important to keep in mind that this study only looks at the effects on mortality. “While further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration, should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health,” said co-lead author, Janet Cade, in a statement.
But for now, make sure you’re trying to take frequent breaks. Trystretching from your desk, wiggling those hands and feet about, or even make multiple trips to the water cooler and back (H2O is important too!). It’s these tiny differences that will change how your body responds physiologically.
What’s the connection between fitness and fidgeting? Check out our October 11 print issue.