Study: Fidgeting at Your Desk Very Necessary for Increasing Blood Flow

sitting and blood flow
Good Habits

A new study by the University of Missouri shows that fidgeting and tapping your toes at your desk may actually help decrease the risk of arterial dysfunction.

Previous research has shown that sitting for long periods of time, such as in an airplane or car, can reduce blood flow to the legs, which can lead to gangrene, tissue death, and amputation in severe cases. But tapping your toes or keeping your feet moving during the day can actually counteract some of the risk factors.

Lead author of the study and assistant professor of nutrition and exercise physiology, Jaume Padilla, PhD, had this to say about the work:

“Many of us sit for hours at a time, whether it’s binge watching our favorite TV show or working at a computer. We wanted to know whether a small amount of leg fidgeting could prevent a decline in leg vascular function caused by prolonged sitting. While we expected fidgeting to increase blood flow to the lower limbs, we were quite surprised to find this would be sufficient to prevent a decline in arterial function.” [1]

To conduct the study, researchers at the University of Missouri compared the vascular function in the legs of 11 healthy men and women. They were asked to sit for three hours, while tapping one foot for a total of a minute and then resting it for four minutes. Their other leg, which served as the control, remained still during the study.

After this portion of the test concluded, the researchers measured the blood flow of the popliteal – an artery in the lower leg. They found that the leg that didn’t tap had a decreased blood flow, while the one that did experienced an increase in blood flow. [2]

Padilla said:

“You should attempt to break up sitting time as much as possible by standing or walking. 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.”

Another study examining how fidgeting could benefit you concluded with:

“Fidgeting may reduce the risk of all-cause mortality associated with excessive sitting time. More detailed and better-validated measures of fidgeting should be identified in other studies to replicate these findings and identity mechanisms, particularly measures that distinguish fidgeting in a seated from standing posture.”

So next time you’re stuck on a plane, train, car or at work, remember to take the time to keep your legs moving.


[1] University of Missouri

[2] The Telegraph