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This Annoying Habit May Save Your Life

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Are you a fidgeter? You may be in luck! New research shows that fidgeting may be healthier than not fidgeting, helping you stay slimmer and healthier throughout life. Read more about the benefits of fidgeting below.

Fidgeting is generally regarded as a bad thing. If you move and wiggle during meetings, typically others question your concentration and consider the activity rude.

The word “fidget” means “to move about restlessly, nervously, or impatiently,” which all have negative connotations. However, the dictionary and society as a whole may be wrong.

Fidgeting may be one of the healthiest things you can do for both your physical and mental health, which is good news for fidgeters everywhere, particularly children who fidget in school.

The Modern Sedentary Lifestyle

Fidgeting may not have been necessary when most adults had physical jobs, such as in factories or on farms, but today, only 20 percent of all jobs involve movement according to The American Heart Association.

Most people spend nine or more hours a day sitting, and some people spend 12 or more hours a day sitting. This is surprisingly dangerous for your health, and new research studies are uncovering just how risky spending all day sitting actually can be. A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to a higher risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality from any cause.

Surprisingly enough, just exercising once a day is usually not enough to counteract a day of sitting. Although you are better off exercising every day, just 30 minutes or so of exercise daily is not enough positive to counteract all of the negatives from sitting. But studies show that there is still hope for modern humans. Read more about the positive findings below.

Constant Movement is Key

Just because you have an office job does not mean you are doomed to poor health. A study from 2015 published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology found that individuals who move around just 2 minutes out of every hour increased their lifespan by 33 percent. This effect was greater than that of individuals who sat still most of the day but exercised 30 minutes or more daily.

Basically, by fidgeting and walking around every hour, you improve your health and reduce some of the ill effects of constant sitting. Fidgeting may also have similar benefits, which means rather than shunning the fidgeters, we should be emulating them.

Find out some of the benefits of fidgeting below:

The Benefits of Fidgeting

A study published in 2015 in the journal American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined 13,000 women for a period of 12 years. Throughout the study, the women reported habits such as physical habits, diet, sitting time, how much they fidgeted, and other lifestyle choices.

The study authors found that women who sat for seven or more hours a day and didn’t fidget had an increased mortality rate of 30 percent. Women who fidgeted, even if they sat still for six or more hours a day had a reduced mortality rate of about 30 percent.

The women who fidgeted the most were still the healthiest even if they sat still for longer periods. The study authors were surprised to see how healthy fidgeting actually is. Fidgeting is essential, according to the data from this study, for a long and healthy life in the modern world.

Fidgeting Essential for Kids, Too

Not only are adults sitting for long periods each day, but children are, too. Children sit now more than ever, with a lifestyle that includes extended school hours, indoor play, and little to no recess and physical activity time per day.

According to a 2015 study published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, today’s children sit for an average of 8.5 hours a day. Girls are more likely to sit more often than boys, particularly after the age of 8.

In another 2015 study published in the journal Experimental Physiology, the researchers examined the effects of sitting on girls aged 9-12. The study researchers noted that after three hours of sitting, the girls had significantly reduced vascular function, up to 33 percent. Surprisingly enough, it just takes a one percent decline in vascular function to increase heart disease risk by 13 percent.

However, not all was doom and gloom in the study. The researchers also found that if the girls moved for 10 minutes out of every hour, their vascular system was not damaged. And the girls who had sat still were able to recover their vascular function after a few active days.

How You Move is Important

What all of these studies have in common is what kind of movement prevents sitting-related health problems. Rather than seeing benefit from one large chunk of exercise time, all study participants had the best results when they moved a little bit out of each hour. Between two and 10 minutes of activity out of each hour was enough to prevent dangerous health risks. The takeaway message for adults and children alike is to incorporate more movement throughout the day.

Fitness trackers that track movement throughout the day are a simple way to encourage more movement. Having a goal of 10,00 steps or something similar can encourage adults and children to move more during the day.

If you cannot actually get up and move around each hour, even fidgeting at a desk or in a chair can help relieve some of the danger of sitting. These studies highlight the importance of allowing children to move throughout the day as well.

Children need to move and fidget during the day to maintain health. Parents can do their part to encourage movement in school by lobbying for two or more recess breaks per day, asking for more physical fitness activities throughout the week, and requesting that children be allowed to fidget during class and not punished for making small movements during the day.

Easy Ways for Adults and Children to Move More

We can’t help the current set up of our society. Most of us will be required to sit more throughout the day than is ideal. However, if we think about ways to incorporate more movement throughout the day, we can cut down on mortality rate and disease risk.

Simple Ways to Move More

Set a step goal for how many steps to take in a day. Start with a small number, like 2,500 steps and gradually work your way up to 10,000 or more steps in a day.

Arrange your desk so that you have to get up and walk if you want to get something from the printer, talk to someone else at work, or access work files.

Stand and walk while making phone calls.

Try exchanging your regular seat with an exercise ball. Some schools also allow children to sit on exercise balls instead of chairs.

Set a timer and walk around at least 2 minutes out of every hour. This will benefit your body and your eyesight at the same time.

When your children get home from school, require them to run around outside or engage in active play as part of their homework. Do not allow video games or other stationary activities until the exercise is completed. 

Request that your children’s teachers allow them to fidget in class and have designated moving periods throughout the day, even for older ages like middle school and high school.

Have your students to take PE every semester, even if it isn’t required by the school.

Fidget while sitting still by juggling a leg, hand, or knee.

Allow your children to fidget while they are at home.

While watching TV, have “movement breaks” during commercials or at the end of every episode. The longer the show, the longer your exercise breaks should be.

Small Movements Make a Big Difference

It doesn’t seem like a lot, but small movements throughout the day, and even fidgeting, can make a huge positive difference in your health. By moving throughout the day, you reduce your chances of being obese, getting heart problems, and even reduce total mortality by about 33 percent. It is surprising that such a small change makes a big difference, but lucky for you, it’s pretty easy to add a bit more movement throughout the day. Try it consciously for a few weeks and you’ll soon find that you develop a habit of moving throughout the day.




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