According to numerous studies, fidgeting helps improve conditions of the mind and body. Who knew?
This week, the scientific minds of New Zealand grouped together to better understand why we fidget. Perhaps unexpectedly, the study concluded that fidgeting was positive, as it is a way to improve our concentration and the cognitive skills we use for self-regulation and problem-solving.
The University of Auckland’s Samantha Holdsworth (who co-led the study) said that the results granted us an “unprecedented look” into ADHD brains.
Per the study, “the research team used MRI to measure participant’s blood flow in the brain, biochemical signatures, and brain morphology. They also used fMRI technology to measure activity in the brain while the participants took a test designed to measure their ability to pay attention and make decisions.”
This work opens up “new possibilities to better understand the ADHD mind, and potentially identify unique biomarkers of ADHD,” Holdsworth explained in a statement
In 2019, a study by the University of Strathclyde suggested that fidgeting may be used to protect us from obesity, increase our cardiovascular health, and perhaps hyperbolically, “even save lives”.
the Professor of Physical Activity and Public Health Science at the aforementioned university described his study as “measuring the energy expenditure of 40 children aged four to six, while they each spent an hour in a whole-room calorimeter. This is a chamber the size of a small bedroom, in which energy expenditure is accurately measured from the amount of oxygen breathed in and the amount of carbon dioxide breathed out.
“The children all followed the same procedure in the calorimeter: 30 minutes watching TV, ten minutes drawing or colouring in, and 20 minutes playing with toys on the floor. We counted the number of times children changed posture and took that as our measure of fidgeting.
“The fidgeting we witnessed – with colleagues from the Australian universities of Wollongong and Deakin – varied enormously, despite all of the children following the standard set of activities. There were 53 posture changes per hour in the most fidgety third of the sample, and only 11 per hour in the least fidgety third. These differences directly affected the number of calories burned.
“The difference between most and least fidgety groups was only around six calories per hour. But when extrapolated over months and years, this could lead to large differences in energy use.
“After all, children of that age typically spend around nine to ten hours per day sitting down, so a six calorie difference per hour of sitting would become a difference of 60 calories per day, 420 calories per week (about three bags of crisps), and 22,000 calories per year (equivalent to about 2kg of body weight in a 20kg child).
“We also found that children were much less fidgety while watching TV than when drawing, colouring, or playing with toys on the floor. This may partly explain why time spent watching TV increases the risk of obesity so strongly in children of this age compared to other sedentary activities.
“Meanwhile, an older study found that more fidgety adults resisted weight gain when overfed compared to less fidgety individuals. Taken together, this evidence suggests that differences in the tendency to fidget might partly explain why some people are more susceptible to obesity than others.”