The Benefits of Fidgeting

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“A body in motion remains in motion unless it is acted on by an external force. If the body is at rest it remains at rest.”  --Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion

You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” This is because several years of recent research have now shown that sitting still for as little as 30 minutes can cause changes in your blood vessels and the rest of your cardiovascular system that lead to damage and results similar to those of cigarette smoking.

Prolonged Sitting Leads to Premature Death

Research has shown that prolonged sitting is a risk factor for early death. However, even just standing up every 20 minutes can break the cycle of dangerous physiological changes that sitting can bring on.

An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, one of the banes of our modern existence, has increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Research has also found that prolonged sitting time is associated with a poorer quality of life in adults 60 years of age and older.

Prolonged Sitting Leads to Obesity

Other researchers have noted that it is not uncommon for many individuals to spend at least half of their waking hours sitting—during which time muscles remain relatively idle. So much idle time, physically speaking, results in fewer calories burned and weight gain that can eventually result in obesity.

Fidgeting to the Rescue

Medical researchers have found that some people—those who are prone to fidgeting—burn hundreds of extra calories per day just through these extra movements.

Think of the person you know who is always tapping her foot, tapping or clicking his pen, moving back and forth in his chair, and so on. These movements take energy, which burns calories, helping to keep the fidgeter slimmer than his or her immovable counterparts.

Better yet, stand up every 20 minutes and walk around.

One study found that as little as three five-minute walks throughout the workday can reverse the harm caused to peripheral arteries (in the legs) by prolonged sitting. So get up and walk. Hold walking meetings instead of sitting around a conference table for hours at a time. Stand up while taking phone calls. Take the stairs whenever possible. Get up during commercial breaks if you’re watching television. The point is to get—and keep—moving.

If you are stuck in a sitting meeting, do your best to keep some part of your body in motion. Moving your legs or tapping your feet is one of the easiest ways to do this. Staying in motion is key for lifelong health, and that rule of good old Isaac Newton, that “a body in motion remains in motion,” applies to us human beings as well!


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