Thursday, May 5, 2011

Find Ways to Fidget

Do you fidget?  Wiggle while you work?  Walk around while thinking?  Stretch your legs out or cross and re-cross them during meetings?  We all got told to "stop fidgeting" when we were kids. Turns out that may not be such good advice after all.

We've known for several years that "naturally" lean people tend to fidget more than their overweight counterparts, but did you know it makes a difference of hundreds of calories per day?  On average, people who fidget 2 hours per day burn an extra 350 calories daily!  That's huge.  It's fantastic that you've challenged yourself to 30 days of intentional movement--now let's integrate even more movement into your life!

Can you learn to fidget?  I have no hard data to support this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say yes.  It's all a matter of environment and awareness.

There are computer programs--alarms, really--that you can set to ding every 10 minutes to remind you to move.  My good friend Tim likes this one.  There are standing desks and bouncy balls.  There's not allowing yourself to sit on the couch while you watch TV.  Basically, make yourself a little less comfortable so you're more aware of your body.

I just started sitting on an exercise ball while I type, and in just a few days I've noticed a huge increase in my "wiggle factor".  I was never a still person. but every time my mind wanders from my work I notice myself wishing I could slouch, which leads to an awareness of my back and a little wiggling to relax it. When I'm trying to think of a word I bounce up and down.  When I'm transitioning between tasks, I move my booty from side to side or make circles with my abdomen.  Keep this up and I'll have gorgeous abs by the time it's warm enough for a swim suit!

My husband Ben has a standing desk and he loves it, though he can't work at it for more than 4 hours without his legs getting really tired.  How much fidgeting would you do if you had to work standing up? Not all of us can afford the fancy treadmill desks so a standing desk is a cheap alternative.  Here's a hint: you don't have to buy something labeled "standing desk".  You can go get a bar table and either cut the legs down or jack them up to the appropriate height.

While watching TV, what if you had to stand up every time you wanted to change the channel?  Or what if you had to sit on the floor or a bouncy ball instead of the couch?  I guarantee more wiggle when not enveloped in your comfy armchair!

How are you going to find ways to fidget?

NYT 2005 article: The Fit Tend to Fidget and Biology May Be Why
Science journal article that provided the basis for the NYT article


  1. I find fidgeting far easier when drinking coffee at Neptune in Greenwood, as I did today. Sadly, my movement was restricted to the occasional wiggle and the ~1 mile I walked (counting there and back). Think I'm going to squeeze a little bit of Bagua practice in before bed and hope it doesn't upset my sleep cycle. Yesterday I worked squats and pull-ups, and I'll be moving to my next stage of training on squats next week! Progress!

  2. Squeezed in some bodyweight exercise today on my lunch break: back bridges and handstands, plus neck and wrist work. Kinda threw off my schedule, but absolutely worth it.

  3. Awesome Ben! How long can you stand in a handstand? Do you use a wall?

  4. I wiggle my feet all the time when I'm sitting in a car on a couch or at my desk. I wonder how many calories my little piggies burn?