Mobility is becoming more and more important in our work-life and training routines, so are we missing something our body is trying to tell us?

Moving about after sitting or standing in one position is something we quite naturally do. Fidget, squirm, jiggle, twitch, writhe, twist: our bodies get to a point where they demand to be moved

Endless studies show us that sitting down for too long is detrimental to our health. However, a recent study by Janet Cade the University of Leeds showed that fidgeting can take years off of your life. She looked at over 12000 women over the course of 12 years and noted the one’s who sat for over seven hours or more a day AND fidgeted the least were 30% more likely to have died. Those who moderately or greatly fidgeted had no greater risk.

Of course there are many variables to be considered in such findings but it cannot be dismissed that sitting for long hours makes our body fight to move!

Traditionally, fidgeting is thought to be a nervous habit or done in boredom (think of how you feel towards the end of a three-hour meeting!). It is often an unconscious act and can involve many different restless movements such as rubbing your fingers together, biting twirling your hair, tapping your foot on the floor or bouncing your leg. I’m a bit of a “tapper” myself – tapping the table, my leg, my chin.

Generally fidgeting is met with negative connotation – however the study above and many more say otherwise! Dr Karen Pine at the University of Hertfordshire found that children who were allowed to fidget performed better at memory and learning tests. James A Levine of the Mayo Clinic found “Fidgets can burn about 350 extra calories a day – lean subjects spent at least 150 more minutes moving in some way than obese subjects”.

Of course fidgeting can be a “red flag” – a sign of something untoward in the body such as hyperthyroidism, but this is in combination with other symptoms and ultimately diagnosed with a blood test.

Fidgeting is different to cramps – something often experienced in bed at night and linked to low magnesium and/or iron due to a genetic neurological disorder where the neurotransmitter dopamine is mishandled by the brain. Prescription drugs Pramipexole and Ropinirole can eradicate these night time cramps by activating dopamine receptors.

I digress: maybe it is time we re-think why we feel the need to “fidget” and start looking at ways we can be more in tune with our bodies, allowing them to change position throughout the day, to move, to stretch, as the are designed to do.

Think about this: the human body has evolved in to the incredible machine it is today. Our feet are made up of 26 bones each strung together by a complex mechanism of ligaments and muscles to allow us to take the load of the body and spring forwards and upwards. Not to be stuck in one position, under the desk and crossed over one another. Our lumbar spine is made up of five strong vertebrae that twist and glide over one another to allow us to reach up and down and project forwards. Not to be stuck in one position, no movement at all and the weight of the body loaded through it.

The result of not moving for long periods? Stiff, de-sensitised feet and stiff, locked spines. Ouch!

So don’t fight the fidget. Open you mind to the idea that fidgeting isn’t impatience nor boredom or worry; it might just be your body wanting to move!

Visit Wellness London to find out more on how to be well at work!

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