Fidgeting Can Be Good For You

Are you a fidgeter?

From now on, you can ignore the frequent requests you undoubtedly receive to just sit still. A new study finds that fidgeting — the toe-tapping, foot-wagging and other body movements that annoy your co-workers — is in fact good for your health.

Sitting is one of the scourges of modern life. We sit during meetings, automobile and airplane trips, while completing lengthy work assignments and while binge-watching “Stranger Things.” Studies of movement patterns indicate that most of us spend between eight and 10 hours each day seated. During that time, our bodies and, in particular, our legs barely move.

The health consequences of this muscular immobility are well documented and include an increased risk for weight gain, as well as diabetes, since unused muscles in the legs do not pull sugar from the blood, leading to a dangerous rise in blood sugar.

But the most immediate impact of over sitting is on our vasculature. Studies show that uninterrupted sitting causes an abrupt and significant decline in blood flow to the legs. This is problematic since, when blood flow drops, friction along the vessel walls also declines. The cells that line these walls, which can sense changes in the friction, begin to pump out proteins that contribute over time to hardening and narrowing of the arteries. This may make biological sense, because arteries don’t need to be as flexible when there isn’t much blood in them, but when the blood flow increases, the blood vessel remains stiff, increasing blood pressure and raising the risk for atherosclerosis. To read more from Gretchen Reynolds, click here.