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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,
geez!

fidgeting friends
Once upon a time, Psychologist Sir Francis

Galton was sitting in a lecture, got bored
and decided to watch the audience instead

of listen to the speaker.
(been there!)
According to him, these elderly Victorian
lecture-goers were, "swaying from side-to-side"

at about "1 fidget a minute."
When the audience's attention was aroused,
he noticed their fidgeting would lessen.

In his paper, published in Nature, titled
"The Measure of Fidget" Galton determined

people must fidget out of boredom!
This was before discussions about hyperactivity
or sugar, or before the television RUINED

our attention span.
This was 1885!
130 years ago, people fidgeted.
It's definitely not caused by over-caffeinated,
ADHD-prone, coddled millennials.

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.
Yep, you heard me, fidgeting may equal 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 too much is going on

the brain can't focus.
So, to offload some of that stress, the brain
might trigger our fidgeting!

Lower stress is highly associated with better
learning and memory performance, so fidgeting

can help us learn!
Though science isn't sure… because maybe
it's just men…

For some reason men fidget twice as often
as women, and a 2005 study from the University

of Hertfordshire found fidgeting can reduce
levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which

should lower stress.
A study in PLoS ONE, however, that benefit
seems 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.
Another study with ADHD kids further muddies
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, they performed better

on memory tests.
However, kids without ADHD performed worse
when they were allowed to spin, and better

when they stayed still.
It would seem, though fidgeting may lower
stress and help learning, there's a level

where the benefits to our attention and learning
disappear.

For example, drawing random doodles, kicking
feet, or shaking legs may be fine, but drawing

specific pictures or walking around the room
is too distracting and benefits are lost.

So, perhaps boys with ADHD need to fidget?
What about girls?
Do they get ANY benefit?
Well, a study from September 2015 in the American
Journal of Preventive Medicine, looked at

13,000 UK women 12 years apart and 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 fidgeting can burn

up to 144 calories a day!
That's more than a can of pop!
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 almost the same as Galton in 1885.
If you track the number of fidgets per minute,
it's a good indicator of audience boredom.

Fidgeting seems to be a representation of
our animal brains working hard to keep on

task and learning.
It can be irksome, but as long as it's not
distracting to others, it's not necessarily

bad, and is (at least) burning some calories!
Sometimes we're just… fidgety widgety.
Do you fidget?
How?
Pen clicker?
Leg shaker?
Finger tapper?
Nail biter?
Whatchoo got?
Tell us your fidgeting functions down below.
Fidgeting might be annoying to some, but sitting
is killing you.

Yep.
Your chair.
It's slowing killing you right now.
Find out more in this video
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Why Cant Some People Stop Fidgeting

301 Folder Collection
PENG published on April 6, 2019
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