You Should Wiggle While You Work, Science Says

Fidgeters unite!

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hepburn chair spin

Here's some good news for those of you who can't sit still: Your need to wriggle and writhe may actually be a healthy habit.

In fact, fidgeting — toe tapping, finger drumming, knee jiggling and the like — may reduce the negative health effects of sitting for long periods of time, according to a September 2015 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Spending too many hours on your keister has already been associated with increased anxiety levels as well as increased risk of developing heart problems and even certain types of cancer, so the first part of this study is no surprise: After looking at data on the sitting and fidgeting habits of more than 12,000 women between the ages of 35 to 69, the British researchers found that "non-fidgety" women who sat for seven or more hours each day had a 30 percent higher risk of early death than more active women.

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But here's the surprising part: Even though they still sat for five to six hours a day, the "fidgety" women showed zero increased risk of early death than more active women.

So should bosses start encouraging toe-tapping sessions at the office? Well, not so fast – the study shows an association between fidgeting and reduced risk of premature death, not that fidgeting is the definite cause of the reduced risk.

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"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 co-lead study author and University of Leeds professor Janet Cade in a press release.

Get Up and at 'Em!

This is just one of many recent studies to suggest that even a little bit of movement goes a long way. A small 2014 study from Indiana University concluded that a five-minute stroll can reverse harm caused to leg arteries after three hours of sitting. Also, adding two minutes of a light activity (like walking) to your routine each hour could also turn your health around, according to April 2015 research from the University of Utah.

And it's not even about putting in extra minutes at the gym, just extra minutes away from your desk. A small September 2015 study from King's College London found that trying to "make up" for sitting all day long by increasing your physical activity elsewhere is less effective than simply getting out of your chair regularly throughout the day.

In other words, now might be a good time to take a break.

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