AUG 11, 2016 6:15 PM PDT

Fidgeting While Sitting Shown to Improve Arterial Flow

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker
Will a small amount of leg fidgeting prevent a decline in leg vascular function caused by prolonged sitting?

The fidgeting tendency you can’t seem to quit while sitting at your desk is actually improving your health, a new study finds. While fidgeting is no replacement for walking or standing, it provides protection from the risk for cardiovascular disease that comes with a sedentary lifestyle. 

For pilots, desk dwellers, and others who seem to be sitting all the time, the recent University of Missouri-Columbia study is great news. There’s only so many trips one can take to get coffee or use the bathroom for a stretch break, and having an activity that can be done to improve blood flow while sitting down could help a lot of people be proactive about their health. 

In the recent American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology study, researchers observed the vascular function in the legs of 11 young and healthy males and females before and after they sat for three hours straight. The study participants were instructed to “fidget one leg intermittently” while leaving the other leg still. Participants would tap the fidget leg continuously for one minute, rest the leg for four minutes, and repeat.

By measuring blood flow of a lower leg artery called the popliteal, researchers saw a clear, significant increase in arterial flow for the fidget leg and a reduction in flow for the motionless leg.

“In a real-world scenario, the researchers recommend tapping both legs to maximize the beneficial effects,” states a press release. 

Increasing arterial blood flow is important for vascular health and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease due to the friction of blood flowing on the artery wall that occurs. Researchers still recommend taking walking/standing breaks from long periods of sitting, but fidgeting the legs while seated is an additional way to reduce individual risk of heart disease.

“Any movement is better than no movement,” said lead author Jaume Padilla, PhD.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia
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About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog:
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