Stand up and do the twist – that works!
As a child, I was a major fidgeter. My mother was hell bent to turning me into a poised and non-fidgeting “lady.”
I was in perpetual motion from the time I got up in the morning until I went to bed at night. I bounced on my heels, tapped my fingers, wrinkled my nose and for a while there, I developed a sort of nervous tick. I felt the urgent need to shrug my shoulders and would sometimes do it two or three times a minute. It got especially bad in church which embarrassed my parents all the more.
“And listen, my children,” shouted the preacher while waving his arms, “sin will be the downfall of us all.” There I sat on the front row shrugging ninety to nothing. It must have been a terrible distraction for him.
I was also a hair twirler. When nervous or anxious I would twirl and twirl. A neighbor boy who liked to torment me started calling me “whirly bird” which seemed to make me spin all the more aggressively.
Somehow, by my senior year, Mother had cured me of all my fidgeting and turned me into a dainty couch potato. What she didn’t know was that she was setting me up for a lifetime of battling the proverbial bulge.
It’s true: Fidgeters are more likely to stave off weight gain from extra calories, if you can believe the results of a study recently released by the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Obesity Center. A second study was released from Mayo Clinic with similar results.
It may sound silly, but check out the numbers: Whether you’re a leg bouncer, toe tapper, thumb twiddler, or gum chewer, people in a study who had a habit of fidgeting burned, on average, nearly 350 extra calories per day! One truly fidget-prone person in the study burned a whopping 700 extra calories over his couch bound brethren.
There’s even a scientific definition for fidgeting – “non-exercise activity thermogenesis,” – or calories burned during the activities of daily living rather than planned exercise. Sounds more fun that going to the gym, doesn’t it?
So, I’m trying hard to become a fidgeter again, but I’ve repressed my natural tendencies for so long, I’m not sure I can get them back.
You don’t have to tap your toes to get the job done. Doing just about anything besides sitting still counts — maintaining your posture, turning pages, or regularly lifting a glass of water to your lips — the more active you are, the better. Hide the remote and get up to change the channel. Walk around whenever you talk on the cell phone. Wash the dishes instead of punching a button.
And for goodness sakes – let your children go ahead and fidget. They may become healthier adults – obnoxious maybe, but definitely healthier.