Research/studies Worker health and wellness

Fidgeting while sitting may lower adverse health risks: study

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Photo: Mark Bowden/iStockphoto

London – Several studies have shown that sitting for long periods is unhealthy, but new research suggests that fidgeting may counteract the adverse health impacts associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

More than 12,000 women in the United Kingdom responded to a survey about their average daily sitting time, overall fidgeting and a range of other questions that included diet, smoking habits and level of physical activity.

Researchers from University College London, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leeds found that women who sat for long periods and considered themselves “very occasional fidgeters” had an increased risk of mortality. However, women who considered themselves moderately or very fidgety had no increased risk from longer sitting times.

Although other studies have linked breaks from sitting with improved health, this is the first study to examine whether fidgeting might help.

“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,” study co-lead author and University College London researcher Gareth Hagger-Johnson said in a press release.

The study was published online Sept. 23 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.