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How To Improve Your Health By Fidgeting!

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Sitting for prolonged periods has been called, “the new tobacco” risk factor, due to its devastating impact-increasing the risk of chronic disease and death. A new study  suggests that the movements involved in fidgeting may counteract the adverse health impacts of sitting for long periods.

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.”

In a study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a team of researchers, co-led by the University of Leeds and UCL, report that an increased risk of mortality from sitting for long periods was only found in those who consider themselves very occasional fidgeters.

Another more recent study, published in The American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, found that lower-body fidgeting may result in enough 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.

Extended Sitting with Fidgeting=No Increased Health Risk

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 study examined data from the University of Leeds’ UK Women’s Cohort Study, which is one of the largest cohort studies of diet and health of women in the UK.

Study co-lead author Professor Janet Cade, from the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds said: “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.”

Even among adults who meet recommended physical activity levels and who sleep for eight hours per night, it is possible to spend the vast majority of the day (up to 15 hours) sitting down.

The study builds on growing evidence suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for your health, even if you are physically active outside work.

Sitting Breaks

Breaks in sitting time have previously been shown to improve markers of good health, such as body mass index and your body’s glucose and insulin responses. But until now, no study has ever examined whether fidgeting might modify an association between sitting time and death rates.

The University of Leeds’ UK Women’s Cohort Study gathered information on a wide range of eating patterns of more than 35,000 women aged 35 to 69 who are living in the UK.

The new study analyzes data from a follow-up survey sent to the same women, which included questions on health behaviors, chronic disease, physical activity levels and fidgeting. More than 14,000 responses were received.

Study co-lead author Dr Gareth Hagger-Johnson from UCL, who conducted the data analysis, said: “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.”

Sources:

The research paper, ‘Sitting-time, fidgeting and all-cause mortality in the UK Women’s Cohort Study’, is published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-09/uol-iys092115.php

Hagger-Johnson G, Gow AJ, Burley V, Greenwood D, Cade JE.  “Sitting Time, Fidgeting, and All-Cause Mortality in the UK Women’s Cohort Study.”  Am J Prev Med. 2015 Sep 4. pii: S0749-3797(15)00345-1.

Takuma Morishima, Robert M. Restaino, Lauren K. Walsh, Jill A. Kanaley, Paul J. Fadel, Jaume Padilla American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology Published 1 July 2016 Vol. 311 no. 1, H177-H182 DOI: 10.1152/ajpheart.00297.2016

http://ajpheart.physiology.org/content/311/1/H177

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