Sitting for long stretches isn’t as bad for us if we fidget more

Sitting in my high school’s auditorium for an assembly, you would think I had ants in my pants from the lack of self control over my limbs. A friend next to me whispered “sit still” as I sat up, sat down, repositioned this way and that. Almost seven years later, and still unable to remain seated for too long, one study now shows that the act of fidgeting could potentially prevent health hazards.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers analyzed the fidgeting habits of 12,778 women ages 35-69. They broke the women into categories based on how many hours in a day they spend sitting and their fidgeting tendencies, and analyzed them over 12 years.

The results are promising. Sitting for more than seven hours a day was only associated with an increased mortality risk when the women had low fidgeting rates. If they had medium to high fidget rates, there was no sign of increased mortality rates. Furthermore, women who had higher tendencies to fidget and only sat for five to six hours a day had a decreased mortality risk over the 12 year span.

So yes, our sedentary lifestyles have become incredibly dangerous to our health but this study offers hope for those of us who work a desk job to make a living.

More: Stand up! Sitting can be hazardous to your health

For myself, fidgeting had always been a situation of either a) not being able to get comfortable or b) a lack of attention. It was never a matter of purposely being impolite, I’m just not the type of person who sits for hours on end. If you find yourself struggling to sit still like myself, the solution is quite simple: don’t.

The study’s co-author Dr. Gareth Hagger-Johnson confirms, “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.”

So, we have been given full permission to fidget away. Click your pen up and down, jiggle your knee, tap your feet, move your legs this way and that way. Your health just might depend on it.