LEEDS, England, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Recent studies have shown that an increasingly sedentary lifestyle dominated by sitting at work and then sitting in leisure time has a negative effect on health. New research suggests some portion of the negative effect of sitting so much can be counteracted by moving around while doing so -- suggesting fidgeting may be good for your health.
Physical activity outside of work improves people's health, researchers say, however at least one recent study showed that continuously sitting for 15 or more hours per day counteracts many of those health benefits.
"While further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration, should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health," said Professor Janet Cade, a researcher at the School of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Leeds, in a press release.
Researchers used data from the UK Women's Cohort Study on 12,778 women between the age of 37 and 78 collected between 1998 and 2002, as well as followup data gained from surveys sent to women over the next 12 years. The cohort and survey were focused on physical activity, time spent sitting, diet and fidgeting.
Women who mostly sat still for 7 or more hours per day were found to have a 30 percent increase in mortality, while those reporting moderate to high fidgeting while seated showed no increased risk of mortality. There was no difference in the effects of fidgeting seen between the middle and high groups.
Aside from fidgeting, researchers have suggested that people track how long they remain seated for and make an effort to lower it. In some cases, employers have gotten involved in this by offering employees standing desks and endorsed methods of breaking up long periods of sitting.
The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.