Previous research has shown that sitting for an extended period of time at a computer or during a long airline flight reduces blood flow to the legs, which may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri have found that fidgeting while sitting can protect the arteries in legs and potentially help prevent arterial disease.
“Many of us sit for hours at a time, whether its binge watching our favorite TV show or working at a computer,” said Jaume Padilla, PhD., an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU and lead author of the study. “We wanted to know whether a small amount of leg fidgeting could prevent a decline in leg vascular function caused by prolonged sitting. While we expected fidgeting to increase blood flow to the lower limbs, we were quite surprised to find this would be sufficient to prevent a decline in arterial function.”
Research has shown that increased blood flow and its associated shear stress – the friction of the flowing blood on the artery wall – is an important stimulus for vascular health. However, fidgeting’s protective role had not been established.
While only one leg was exposed to fidgeting during the experiment, in a real-world scenario the researchers recommend tapping both legs to maximize the beneficial results. However, the researchers caution that fidgeting is not a substitute for walking and exercise, which produce more overall cardiovascular benefits.
“You should attempt to break up sitting time as much as possible by standing or walking,” Padilla said. “But if you’re stuck in a situation in which walking just isn’t an option, fidgeting can be a good alternative. Any movement is better than no movement.”
august 4, 2016