Sitting down for long periods of time has been shown to be bad for the health but a new study has found that fidgeting may be able to negate adverse effects associated with sedentary lifestyles.

Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study reported than increased risks of death related to sitting for long periods of time was only found in individuals who didn't consider themselves to be fidgeters. The researchers didn't find increased risk based on longer sitting times between women who lived active lifestyles on the overall and those who are very or moderately fidgety.

Even when adults meet ideal requirements for sleep and physical activity, it is still possible for them to spend the bulk of their day (sometimes up to 15 hours!) sitting down. The study then built upon growing evidence that suggested a sedentary lifestyle is bad for overall health, despite engaging in physical activity beyond work hours.

For the study, researchers examined data gathered from the University of Leeds' UK Women's Cohort Study, one of the biggest cohort studies involving the health and diet of women in the UK, involving over 35,000 women between the ages of 35 and 69. All of them were given follow-up surveys asking about health behaviors, levels of physical activity, chronic disease and fidgeting and over 14,000 responses were recorded.

Breaking sitting time has been previously found to result in better markers of good health but there was no research until now that examined if fidgeting can affect the association between death rates and sitting times.

After analyzing their data, the researchers concluded that their findings support the suggestion that sitting still for long periods of time should be avoided, with fidgeting offering enough break to have a difference despite being such a small movement.

"While further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting ... should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health," said Janet Cade, one of the lead authors for the study. Fidgeting is typically associated with lack of focus or rudeness.

Other authors for the study include: Darren Greenwood, Victoria Burley, Alan Gow and Gareth Hagger-Johnson.

Photo: Sara Nel | Flickr

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