Incidental Physical Activities
Fidgeting comes under the category of incidental physical activities, which include chopping onions, pulling out weeds in the garden, tapping your fingers, bobbing your feet while sitting and walking to and fro aimlessly. In today’s world of creature comforts, it is not surprising that the levels of incidental physical activities have fallen sharply.
Formal exercise is known to increase a person’s oxygen intake capacity during training. Can incidental physical activities do the same? To check this, researchers working at Queen’s University at Kingston, in Ontario, Canada, recruited healthy but sedentary adults and attached a device on them which recorded their movements. These devices are called accelerometers.
The volunteers moved little and most of it was light activity. Their walking speed was just about three miles an hour, and their movements were mostly sporadic. Fitness experts advise us to train for about 30 minutes each day. But, none of the Canadian respondents met this guideline. Yet, the adults who moved more, especially briskly, showed much greater cardiorespiratory fitness compared to those who did not move much.
To be sure, the maximum fidgeters did not exercise. Even their brief spurt of physical activity may have been to catch a bus. But, it was enough to boost their oxygen capacity and reduce health risks.
A similar study in 2008 studied the fidgeting habits of obese and lean women. The lean women fidgeted frequently, walked around or simply stood up more, compared to the obese women. The authors opined that the obese ladies could have burnt up to 300 calories each day, simply by adopting the fidgeting habits of the leaner women.
Fidgeting is Good Exercise
This Canadian study suggests that it is enough to fidget and move around to improve fitness. One need not exercise regularly or even go to the gym. Some may say that certain people are blessed with better athletic fitness, hence they move more. But, the Canadian study recruited individuals with low fitness levels and their incidental physical activities drove up their fitness level.
Fidget More Regularly
So, should fidgeting and incidental physical activities become a part of our daily life? The researchers say to improve fitness we can take the stairs instead of riding the lift, and get off the bus a stop ahead and walk home. All said and done, still there is no substitute to formal physical workouts to boost and maintain fitness.