Movements involved in fidgeting may counteract the adverse health effects of sitting for extended periods of time. Janet Cade, from the University of Leeds (United Kingdom), and colleagues collected over 14,000 responses from women who were enrolled in the UK Women’s Cohort Study and subsequently surveyed for health behaviors, chronic disease, physical activity levels, and fidgeting. Data analysis revealed that an increased risk of mortality from sitting for long periods was only found in those who consider themselves very occasional fidgeters. They found no increased risk of mortality from longer sitting times, compared to more active women, in those who considered themselves as moderately or very fidgety. The researchers submit that: “Fidgeting may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality associated with excessive sitting time.”
Another more recent study, published in The American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, found that lower-body fidgeting may result in eough muscular activity to increase blood flow to the legs. Jaume Padilla, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri in Columbia, leader of the new study, stated that “We had expected that fidgeting might attenuate” the reduction in blood flow and any subsequent acute changes in vessel health, but the differences in terms of blood flow and subsequent arterial function were much more significant”. He went on to state that “The muscular contractions associated with fidgeting are really quite small,” he said, “but it appears that they are sufficient” to combat some of the unhealthy consequences of sitting.