Fidgeting Can Cancel The Negative Health Effects Of Sitting All Day, Study Finds

Sitting all day has been linked with higher rates of heart disease, cancer, hospitalisation and early death.

But new research suggests there may be an easy way to counteract the negative impact a sedentary lifestyle has on our health.

A study of 12,778 women found that those who fidget throughout the day were protected against the detrimental health impact of sitting for long periods of time.

Women inclined to fidget were less likely to have died over the course of the study than women who sit completely still for hours on end.

The study, led by Janet Cade, professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Leeds, followed women between the ages of 37 and 78 from 1999 to 2002.

At the beginning of the study, the female volunteers were asked to score the amount they fidgeted on a scale from one to 10, with one being "no fidgeting at all" and 10 being "constant fidgeting".

Cade then divided the women into three groups - low, medium and high fidgeters - and took data on their lifestyle choices, such as their diet, how much alcohol they drank and whether or not they smoked.

At the follow-up session 12 years later, Cade found that women in the "low fidget" group who sat for seven or more hours per day were 30% more likely to have died from any cause, than those who sat for five hours or less per day.

However, women in the middle and high-fidgeting groups had no greater risk of dying when they sat for the longer periods.

"Those of us who are more fidgety seem to have better long term health outcomes. It might be a good thing to fidget. I don’t think we are going to train people to fidget for health reasons, but it’s interesting that these small, active movements could be beneficial," Cade told The Guardian.

Although Cade admits that more research is needed into the links between fidgeting and health, she believes her research could change our outlook on tapping our feet and fiddling with pens.

She said: "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."

The study is published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.