You may have already heard that sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you’ve wondered what that means? It simply means that the risk of dying younger and being less healthy that has long been attributed to smoking is now being applied to sitting on your 6 all day. Even if you are a world class exerciser, yet spend the majority of your waking hours sitting on your derriere, you are still at risk for chronic health issues associated with sitting.
Recently, several studies published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggested that fidgeting may offset the effects of sitting all day. As a lifelong fidgeter, I’ve known for a long time that there had to be some benefit to being a fidgeter. My hypothesis was confirmed about 7 years ago when it was revealed that fidgeters burn, on average, about 8,000 more calories per year than those who sit still. So, all you pencil twirling, leg swinging, finger tapping fidgeters have some evidence that this habit, that likely drives somebody in your life crazy, might improve the length and/or quality of your life.
One of the lead authors of the study conducted at the University of Leeds, UK, pondered the implications of encouraging fidgeting. Often, people who aren’t fidgeters find it rude, annoying or indicating a lack of concentration when they encounter fidgeters. There would need to be some major cultural changes occurring in work places to adjust that mindset. As a fidgeter, let me say that I have a lot of energy and sitting in a chair is second only to lying down as a very low energy burner (.009 calories/minute for sitting). I use fidgeting as a means to burn off energy and, frankly, to keep my brain in motion. I think I was a shark in a previous life, because I function best when I’m in motion. Problem solving, critical thinking and creativity seem to be optimized when I’m in motion.
What if you’re not a fidgeter? Try these “you’ve heard ‘em before but may not have known why they’re important” tips for becoming more fidgety.
- Get up to talk to someone instead of messaging or calling at work.
- If you’re talking on the phone, get up and move around. Did you know that you project more energy if you’re moving during a call? Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is to do a phone interview standing.
- Change out your giant, Big-Gulp-ish drinking cup for a smaller one. You’ll be compelled to get a refill more often.
- If you have a 1:1 meeting planned, go for a walk instead of sitting in someone’s office.
- If the presenter doesn’t mind, stand in the back of a room during a presentation, rather than sitting in a chair. Standing requires more energy than sitting.
We can all use a little more fidget in our lives. So, when the opportunity arises, don’t just sit there, do something!