the benefits of fidgeting

It protects your arteries.

Being bound to a desk during the day isn’t doing your health any favors. A team of University of Missouri researchers set out to see what kinds of physical activity might help counteract the effects of all that sedentary time. They found that fidgeting helped combat reduced blood flow and reduced artery function typically seen when we’re seated. For the study, published in July in the American Journal of Physiology’s Heart and Circulatory Physiology, the researchers had 11 healthy people sit down for 3 hours, keeping one leg stationary and fidgeting the other for 1 minute at a time with 4 minutes rest in between. “There was still some reduction in blood flow in the fidgeting leg, but significantly less than we saw in the stationary leg,” says study author Robert Restaino, a graduate research assistant at the University of Missouri.

It burns calories.

Not enough to skip the gym. But your tendency to fidget does burn some, according to a small Mayo Clinic study. The researchers monitored the movement of 10 obese people and 10 lean people and estimated that a little fidgeting could shave off as many as 350 more calories a day than you’d burn if you could (somehow!) sit still

It lowers your risk of death.

More bad news about sitting: The acute effects Restaino and his colleagues study, like reduced blood flow, pile up over time. “In the longer term, reduced activity and prolonged sitting result in a constant bombardment of low blood flow and poor vascular function, which can have detrimental effects,” he says. The most sedentary people have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even earlier death (yikes! Counteract that with these 6 stretches). The good news is that even if you’re stuck in a sedentary holding pattern, fidgeting can help. In a February 2016 analysis of data from a study of nearly 12,800 UK women, University College London researchers found an increased risk of dying due to sitting for 7 or more hours a day only among the women who were categorized as low fidgeters. The middle and high fidgeters didn’t face any increased risk, the authors write.