Don't stop fidgeting!

A study conducted by a British research team could lead us to change the way we see people that are constantly fidgeting in their chairs. Often associated with rudeness or a lack of concentration, this activity may soon be seen as a survival reflex! From kindergarten, we are expected to stay quietly seated in our chairs. But what if fidgeting were good for your health?

At the outset, G. Hagger-Johnson and his colleagues tried to determine if there was a possible link between time spent sitting and mortality rate among nearly 13,000 English, Scottish, and Welsh women. They tried to determine whether or not fidgeting in one's chair had an influence on this link.

Between 1995 and 1998, 61,000 women (ages 35-69) filled out a questionnaire about their eating habits. Between 1999 and 2002, 14,000 of these women completed a second survey with questions about their health, lifestyle, and exercise habits. In order to measure the amount of time spent fidgeting, participants were asked the following question: “On average, on a scale from 1 to 10, how much time do you spend fidgeting?” The sample (12,778 subjects) was then divided into 3 groups: low (1-2), middle (3-4), and high (5-10). The study lasted for 12 years, ending in December 2013.

The results show that fidgeting has a positive influence on the mortality risk associated with prolonged sitting. Among women who stayed seated over 7 hours/day and who fidgeted the least, the risk of mortality increased by 30% (regardless of a number of other variables, including physical activity). The risk fell considerably for those who stayed seated 5-6 hours/day and were the most restless. For this group, and for those who demonstrated moderate fidgeting, the researchers did not see an increase in mortality if they stayed seated longer.

While the scientists caution that more research is necessary to identify the mechanisms, the study did nevertheless appear in the digital version of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The researchers demonstrated the importance of taking fidgeting, with its complex movements of the hands and feet, in addition to traditional physical activity. These small daily movements also play a role in countering the harmful effects of a sedentary lifestyle.

This study only looked at fidgeting in women. Is it also true for men?
Source: G. Hagger-Johnson, A. J. Grow, V. Burley, D. Greenwood, J. E. Cade, Sitting Time, Fidgeting, and All-Cause Mortality in the UK Women’s Cohort Study, in American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Published Online: September 23, 2015

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