Science News

Fidgeting could add years to your life

Thu, 24th Sep 2015

Charis Lestrange

Sitting has been deemed the new smoking, but is fidgeting now the new standing?

Fidgeting whilst sitting for long periods could help prolong your life, scientists have found this week.

A sedentary lifestyle has been known to have a negative impact on your health.

People who sit for long periods are more likely to have an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer.

However, British researchers have found that the small movements associated with fidgeting might have some positive outcomes to offset the negative effects of sitting down all day. This could be anything from toe-tapping to twirling your pen.

It was found that if you sit for prolonged periods, your chance of death increased, but if you considered yourself a moderate to high frequency fidgeter, this mortality rate decreased. These findings were published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine this week.

A group of nearly 13,000 women provided data over a 12 year period to give researchers an insight into their average daily sitting time, fidgeting levels and other factors such as physical activity and diet. The main focus from this data was to look at physical activity compared to risk of death.

Women who sat for 7 or more hours a day had a 30% increased risk of death compared to those who sat for less than 5 hours per day, only if they considered themselves as low fidgeters. Yet women who fidgeted a lot had no increased risk of mortality at all.

The women were asked to rate how fidgety they were on a scale of 1-10. Co-author Professor Janet Cade from the University of Leeds, explains that it was “interesting that we could see some results even with that crude measure”. She then went on to explain “clearly there’s more work to be done in terms of how we measure fidgeting”.

Cade believes that fidgeting may have some benefit in terms of helping concentration as well. “When people start getting bored, they do start to fidget and that might be a mechanism to try and help them focus.”

So not only could fidgeting help to add years to your life, but you could be more creative too.

 

Hear Janet Cade discussing this research with Charis Lestrange:  Interview with Janet Cade

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