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  • Many of my friends, teachers, romantic partners, and even my parents have all told me to stop fidgeting.

  • "Trace stop shaking your leg!"

  • "But I didn't even know I was doing it, Mom, jeez!"

  • Hey there, fidgeting friends, Trace here for DNews.

  • Once upon a time, psychologist Sir Francis Galton was sitting in a lecture.

  • He got bored and decided to watch the audience instead of listen to the guy speaking. Been there!

  • According to him, these elderly Victorian lecture-goers were swaying from side to side at about 1 fidget per minute.

  • When the audience's attention was aroused, he noticed that their fidgeting would lessen.

  • In his paper, published in Nature, titled "The Measure of Fidget" Galton determined that people must fidget out of boredom!

  • This was before discussions about hyperactivity or sugar, before the television ruined our attention span.

  • This was in 1885!

  • 130 years ago, people fidgeted.

  • It is definitely not caused by over-caffeinated, ADHD-prone, coddled millennials.

  • And instead, fidgeting seems to be part of human nature.

  • The dictionary defines fidgeting as "small movements, especially of the hands and feet, caused by nervousness or impatience."

  • But science has another explanation: it's a way to keep my brain active and focused.

  • Yeah, you heard me, fidgeting might equal better focus.

  • Hashtag Science Yo!

  • When brains are stressed, we don't pay as close attention, and we don't learn as much!

  • Cognitive Load Theory says to think of the brain like a CPU.

  • When you have too much going on in there, the brain can't focus.

  • So, to offload some of that stress, the brain might trigger fidgeting!

  • Lower stress is highly associated with better learning and memory performance, so fidgeting might help us learn!

  • Though science isn't sure if it's everybody or maybe just men.

  • For some reason men fidget twice as often as women.

  • And a 2005 study from the University of Hertfordshire found that fidgeting can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which should lower stress.

  • A study in PLoS ONE, however, found that benefits seem to fall on men who fidgeted.

  • The fidgeting men they tested performed better on cognitive tests and had lower stress, but fidgeting women did neither of those things.

  • A study with ADHD kids further muddles the fidgeting waters, as fidgeting doesn't help everyone all the time.

  • A study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, assessed the working memory of young fidgeting boys.

  • When ADHD kids were put in a swivel chair and allowed to spin, which sounds dangerous, they performed better on memory tests.

  • However, kids without ADHD performed worse when they were allowed to spin, and better only when they stayed still.

  • It would seem, though fidgeting may lower stress and help learning, there is a level where the benefits to our attention and learning disappear.

  • For example, drawing random doodles, kicking your feet or shaking your legs while sitting might be fine.

  • But drawing specific pictures or walking around the room; that's too distracting, and the benefits are just lost.

  • So, perhaps boys with ADHD need to fidget?

  • But what about girls?

  • Do they get benefit, too?

  • Well, a study from September 2015 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, looked at 13,000 UK women over 12 years.

  • And they found adults who fidgeted also burned calories!

  • Their results found fidgeters had quote "better health outcomes," than their still counterparts.

  • And another study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that fidgeting can burn up to 144 calories a day.

  • That's more than a can of pop or soda!

  • Some researchers believe fidgeting seems to be an adaptation to our more sedentary lifestyle.

  • But a study in Frontiers in Psychology looking at memory retention of lectures and fidgeting, found that almost the same thing happens today as did with Galton in 1885.

  • If you track the number of fidgets per minute, it's a pretty good indicator of audience boredom.

  • Fidgeting seems to be a representation of our animal brains working hard to keep on task and keep learning.

  • It can be irksome, but as long as it's not distracting to others, it's not necessarily bad; and it is, at least, burning some calories!

  • Sometimes we're just fidgety widgety.

  • Do you fidget? How?

  • Pen clicker? Leg shaker? Finger tapper? Nail biter? What you got?

  • Tell us your fidgeting functions down below in the comments.

  • Fidgeting might be annoying to some, but sittingthat's killing you.

  • Yeah, your chair? Slowly killing you, right now.

  • Find out more in this video.

Many of my friends, teachers, romantic partners, and even my parents have all told me to stop fidgeting.

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Why Cant Some People Stop Fidgeting

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    PENG posted on 2019/04/06
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