Did your teachers tell you not to fidget? Well, they were probably wrong!

A study of 299 older volunteers done over 13 years at the University of Pittsburgh showed that walking 15 km (9 miles) a week acts as a defense against your brain developing dementia and Alzheimer’s by protecting your brain from shrinking.
OK, I know it’s freezing cold out there, ( -13 C, or 8 degrees fahrenheit in Ontario, brrrrrr!! ) but getting outside, even for a few minutes is really, really good for you, even if you don’t want to. Sometimes with the wind chill factor or iciness on the roads it might not be a good idea to go for a walk – you have to use your common sense – but even standing outside and taking in some deep breaths of the fresh, cold air just feels so good. If it’s a sunny day, then that’s a bonus!
So, in cases of inclement weather, how do you get your daily exercise? Try fidgeting! Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have come up with a theory which might explain why some people just don’t seem to gain weight, even though they may eat more. These people make thousands of very minor movements every day, unconsciously – they take the stairs or bustle about the house doing chores or they just fidget, making lots of movements with their feet, hands, etc. It’s called NEAT or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which in English means “producing heat whilst not exercising”. This is definitely worth trying, especially if you have a sedentary job where you must sit for many hours a day. Whenever you are sitting rotate your hands and feet in circles. Stand up and sit down at least every 15 minutes. Stretch at your desk. Bend over and touch your toes. Play with your pen. Squeeze a ball in your hands. Throw a beanbag up in the air and catch it. Knit or crochet. Get up and walk about for a few minutes. Stand at your desk if you can raise the height of it. You just have to keep moving, because being sedentary can, apparently, kill you. Yikes! Inertia, or the lack of any muscle movement whatsoever, most often seen in people who sit for 6 hours a day or more, caused immediate effects on the body: insulin effectiveness and fat-burning enzymes dropped after only one day of sitting at a desk. This could lead to Type-2 diabetes and too much HDL cholesterol in your blood, as well as weight gain, as the researchers in the above study concluded. Another study by the American Cancer Society studied the life-spans of sedentary people and showed that men who sit, on average, 6 hours per day in their leisure time, had death rates that were 20% higher than men who sat 3 hours or less. For women it’s a lot worse. Women who sit 6 hours a day or more have death rates 40% higher than those who sit 3 hours or less.
So – fidgeting, or making ANY movements while you sit is so extremely important to staying healthy, and next time you find yourself telling a child to sit still and not fidget – think twice – you’re not doing them a favour.


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