Could toe-tapping lead to better health?

Could toe-tapping lead to better health?

Sitting at work all day can be hazardous for your waistline and your health.

But, a study may reveal an easy way to keep your blood flowing when at your desk.

Researchers at the University of Missouri released a study in their Health System Magazine which shows “fidgeting while sitting can protect the arteries in the legs and potentially prevent arterial disease.”

The study compared 11 healthy young men and women and their leg vascular function, both before and after sitting for three hours. Next, they asked the sitting participants “to fidget one leg intermittently, tapping one foot for one minute and then resting it for four minutes, while the other leg remained still throughout.”

The participants, on average, ended up moving their feet about 250 times per minute.

The researchers then measured the blood flow of an artery in their lower leg. They found that the leg that was fidgeting and tapping had a noteworthy increase in blood flow while the stationary leg had a reduction.

“You should attempt to break up sitting time as much as possible by standing or walking,” said Jaume Padilla, PhD, an assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at MU and lead author of the study. “But if you’re stuck in a situation in which walking just isn’t an option, fidgeting can be a good alternative. Any movement is better than no movement.”

But experts caution you should still try to break up your sitting time by standing or walking when possible.

“Fidgeting your legs will get the blood flowing and will burn minimum calories,” says Colleen Dennis, an exercise specialist with the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “However, it really has minimum health benefits.”

For optimal health, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week to keep your heart healthy and the blood flowing.

Mary Ann Majewski, a charge nurse with the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs, also suggests the following ways to stay active while at work:

  • Take a 5-10 minute walk every couple hours
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you can
  • Park the furthest from your entrance
  • Stretch throughout the day to keep the blood pumping throughout your body

While fidgeting may seem like a great alternative to actually being active, “nothing will take the place of exercising,” says Dennis.

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  1. Restless legs and fidgetting are not at all similar. I thought this was going to be an article on restless legs.

  2. I agree with Road queen. I suffer from restless leg and assumed this would discuss that, not antsy leg!

  3. I also kept this article in my must read pile because I thought that it was going to provide some helpful suggestions for reducing/eliminating “restless legs”.

  4. Article title aside, I often question the logic of the advice to “take a 5-10 minute walk every couple hours”. So, how exactly do you explain to your employer where you’re going during these 5-10 minutes? I’m thinking that most employers aren’t interested in your cardiac issues – they’re paying you to work, not exercise. Maybe I need to work in a hospital environment where they are apparently more agreeable to something like that.

  5. Interesting but not what I thought it would be.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.