Good News for Fidgeters

I come from a long line of fidgeters. I call my mom “Go Go Gertie,” because she never stops. I realized after a visit from my grandmother last summer that she has same the inability to be idle. I had to beg her to please sit down like a proper guest. She couldn’t. But who am I to talk?
You might already be familiar with my love for my Polar Activity Monitor, the handy watch/accelerometer that translates movement into exercise time, even categorizing it into “vigorous+,” “vigorous,” and “moderate” activity.” One reason I like it so much is because it provides positive feedback on my fidgeting. Most normal days for me, not including my workout, include at least an additional 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity according to my PAM. It’s a rare day that I fall below the recommended 10,000 steps. Yes, the four kids help. But so does being genetically prone to fidgeting.
And while I like that immediate gratification I get from looking at my watch, I got news recently from the post, “Fidgeting your Way to Fitness,” in Tara Parker Pope’s Well Blog, that makes me even more smug. She reports findings from a Canadian study of volunteers who didn’t meet the current recommended activity guidelines of 30 minutes or more of moderate activity most days of the week. The results suggest that fidgeting, which we already know can help with weight loss, just might improve our fitness level too. She says:

“But those who moved the most, and especially those few who occasionally moved briskly, did have significantly higher cardiorespiratory fitness than those who moved the least. They weren’t exercising. They may have been hurrying to catch the bus during the occasional, brief moderate-intensity spurt, but even that was enough, it seems, to bump up VO2 max and, potentially, reduce risks of health problems.”

So for those who thought they needed to medicate their adult version of hyperactivity, don’t. And on those days when the kids want this and then want that and you’re fetching and swapping and wiping and reaching and walking from the car to the house a dozen times because you need one more thing, don’t get frustrated, know that a mom’s activities of daily living DO pay off.

You might think this news made me more obsessive about wearing my Polar Activity Monitor (which is impossible because you can’t get more obsessive when you’re already wearing it 24 hours a day). Instead I was able to back off from it a little, which is to say I don’t wear it for my “real” workouts. My Polar Heart Rate Monitor needs to reign over my training, a more functional piece of equipment to make improvements in fitness goals. But when I’m not working out… well, yeah, I strap that PAM right back on because I can’t wait to see what kind of “bonus workout” I’ll get for the day.
It’s also nice to know that during those periods of “temporary imbalance” when other priorities need more of your attention, that any movement–not just that accomplished in your workout clothes–adds up like a good savings account. Especially as moms, when there’s always more to do than is humanly possible in a day, “Non Exercise Physical Activity” should count, even if for no other reason than to give ourselves a well needed break every now and then. I don’t mean a physical break (we’re fidgeting too much for that), but a mental one from feeling as if you can never get it all done.
Are you a born fidgeter?


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4 responses to “Good News for Fidgeters

  1. My mom always said that it was just chasing around us kids all day long that kept her thin throughout my entire childhood. I guess now there’s scientific evidence to back her up.

  2. Amy

    Yay for fidgeters! I knew there was a good reason for being fidgety!

  3. Let’s hear it for neurosis! Speaking of which, I’ve tried (fidgeted) with Word Press to make hard returns/spaces between each paragraph and it won’t put them there not matter what I do or how hard I try. I’m giving up. My apologies to our readers!

  4. Great post! I have always had a theory about that, that being a neurotic, fidgety writer type doing 20 things at once burns up more calories than being a nice, normal, relaxed person who can focus on one thing at a time!

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