Schreiber Science

Katie Oppenheim, Staff Writer

Squirming in your seat, twiddling your thumbs, and clicking your pen are just a few examples of fidgeting that are very common throughout the classrooms of Schreiber. In the past several years, researchers primarily focused on topics such as stress and negativity, along with focusing for extended periods of time.

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine revealed that fidgeting may be quite useful.  The study reports, “an increased risk of mortality from sitting for long periods was only found in those who consider themselves very occasional fidgeters.”  Being sedentary has been found by many researchers to be very unhealthy, and this study claims that fidgeting might be the solution.

Actively moving around keeps the heart healthy and can help fitness levels from dropping.  Even though it is not possible to walk around for the duration of a class period, which many scientists believe would be ideal, research has found that just standing can have major health benefits.  The reason standing has such a large number of health benefits is that it uses many muscles in the legs and abdomen.  Whenever muscle is used, the body consumes sugar and impacts triglycerides, which in turn can lower cholesterol.  Fidgeting also activates brain activity and can keep you focused for longer periods of time.

Alan Hedge, an ergonomics professor at Cornell University, recommends breaking up every half hour of doing work into 20 minutes of sitting, eight minutes of standing, and two minutes of moving around.  By following these simple steps, you not only improve fitness levels, but also release energy which helps increase focus.

Scientists have found that relieving stress and improving brain chemistry can be simply accomplished by taking a walk outside.  Going for a walk can soothe the mind, and decrease negative thoughts.  In addition to improving your mental state, standing up and walking around in between study sessions can loosen up muscles and joints.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, researchers had the subjects go for a 90-minute walk, either in nature or in an urban setting.  Before and after the walk, the participants were asked a series of questions, while activity in the prefrontal cortex was measured by a brain scan.  The results demonstrated that the nature walkers had a significant decrease in negative thoughts, which suggests that nature or an experience in nature can positively influence mental well being.  Walking through nature is more peaceful and calming than walking through a busy  and stressful urban setting.

New scientific studies have proven that there are simple ways like fidgeting or going for a walk that will potentially improve mental and physical health.  These methods can have a huge positive impact in the long run, so make sure to take breaks, walk around, and loosen those muscles!