An increasing number of studies suggest that sitting for prolonged periods is bad for our health. However, a new study suggests that fidgeting movements may counteract some of these adverse health effects.
UK researchers examined data from a study involving over 35,000 women aged between 35 and 69. As part of their analysis, they assessed over 14,000 surveys involving the women, which included questions on health behaviours, exercise levels and fidgeting.
They discovered that an increased risk of death from sitting for long periods was only found in those who described themselves as occasional fidgeters.
No increased risk of death was found among those who considered themselves moderately or very fidgety, compared to those who were very active.
"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," commented the study's lead author, Prof Janet Cade, of
the University of Leeds.
The researchers pointed out that even people who exercise a lot may spend the vast majority of their day sitting, for example, in work. While breaks in these periods of sitting have been shown to benefit people, this is the first study to assess whether fidgeting can have an impact on sitting time and death rates.
"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," the researchers added.
Details of these findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.