Vitality

The Health Benefits Of Fidgeting: Twitching, Toe-Tapping Could Improve Heart Health

Although the toe tapper may be the least popular employee in the office, a new study suggests they may be the most healthy. The research conducted by scientists from the University of Missouri found that fidgeting could dramatically cut down your risk of cardiovascular disease, even it it's at the cost of your colleagues' concentration.

After three hours of sitting, study participants who fidgeted in one leg had higher blood flow in that limb than in the leg that was kept still. The study concluded that this slight increase in circulation could be enough to help promote vascular health.

office Toe-tapping could make your office job a bit more healthy. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

"While we expected fidgeting to increase blood flow to the lower limbs, we were quite surprised to find this would be sufficient to prevent a decline in arterial function," said lead researcher Jaume Padilla, Medical Xpress reported.

To determine the effect of fidgeting on blood flow, the team asked 11 healthy young male and female college students to sit at a desk for three hours without getting up. The volunteers were asked to intermittently tap one foot for one minute then rest it for another four and repeat. They ultimately moved their feel about 250 times per minute, Medical Xpress reported. The other leg was kept still throughout the entire three hours.

In the experiment, leg tapping had a pronounced effect on blood flow, and the team believes this benefit could extend to real-life situations. They recommend you try and get up and walk as much as possible in order to boost blood flow.

"You should attempt to break up sitting time as much as possible by standing or walking," Padilla said."But if you're stuck in a situation in which walking just isn't an option, fidgeting can be a good alternative. Any movement is better than no movement."

Fidgeting isn't just good for heart health; other research has suggested that it can help to increase the memory skills in children with ADHD and ultimately help them learn better. In a recent study, kids with ADHD performed significantly better on the task when they were free to engage in extraneous activities such as tapping their feet, moving their hands and playing with the objects around them than ADHD children who were not allowed to fidget. In a press release, the researchers suggested that this may be because fidgeting helps ADHD children better express their hyperactivity.

Source: Morishima T, Restano RM, Walsh LK, et al. Prolonged sitting-induced leg endothelial dysfunction is prevented by fidgeting. American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology . 2016

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