Does Fidgeting Counter the Harmful Effects of Sitting?

Ask Well

Any movement, no matter how slight, counts as physical activity as well as can be not bad for your health.

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Q. Does “moving in place” while seated (for example, flexing or extending feet) count as activity to counteract being sedentary, or does one have to actually stand up or move around, as can be currently being recommended?

A. Fortunately for those of us who often are deskbound, exercise scientists agree in which any movement, no matter how slight, counts as physical activity as well as can be consequential.

For one thing, moving as well as fidgeting in our chairs, which some researchers oxymoronically call “dynamic sitting,” burns calories. In a 2017 study, researchers found in which if office workers used a specialized under-desk, bicycle-like device — which allowed them to remain seated while lightly pedaling — they burned about 20 percent more calories over the course of a workday than if they only sat.

Dynamic sitting also seems to lessen one of the most worrisome health effects of being sedentary. When we sit, unmoving, for hours, blood flow through the major arteries in our legs slows, affecting the health as well as function of those blood vessels as well as potentially contributing over time to arterial stiffening as well as increased blood pressure.