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Don’t Listen to Your Mother-Fidgeting Is Good for Weight Loss
“Would you please sit still!” Your mother may have said those words a thousand times when you were young. Chances are, if she continually asked you to stop fidgeting, you were among the thinner members of your peer group. That’s because research has shown that cumulative movement contributes to lower body weight.
Your Sedentary Body
The majority of adults don’t get enough physical exercise. With the advent of television, remote controls, air-conditioning and, especially, the computer and the technological landslide of digital devices, most people don’t move enough to burn the calories they eat, let alone give their cardiovascular systems a workout. A six-foot, 30-year-old male only burns about 2400 calories a day doing nothing. A 5’4″, 50-year old woman only burns about 1,600 calories.
Between 1970 and 2000–the years the world was introduced to electronics–American’s food consumption increased by almost 25%. According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), in 1970, the aggregate food supply allowed for about 3,300 calories per day per person in the U.S. In 2000, that number went up to 3,800, an increase of about 500 calories per day, coming mostly from refined grains such as cereal, chips, bread and cookies.
Increasing Your Calorie Burn
While Americans would do well to cut calories and reduce the intake of refined carbs, you can shed weight without dieting or strenuous exercise. No, diet pills are not the answer; movement is. Researchers have found that simply moving more, even non-purposefully, can influence your weight and health. Incidental physical activities (IPA) are the little things you do each day that you don’t count as exercise, such as walking down the hall to a co-worker’s office, pushing a shopping cart or chasing the kids.
The Fidget Chemical
In 2006, the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology published a study involving fat and lean mice. The researchers found that the brains of lean mice were more sensitive to a chemical called orexin. Orexin, also found in humans, seems to stimulate physical activity. Lean mice that received injections with more orexin became more fidgety and excitable. However, fat mice didn’t react the same way. It seems that brain sensitivity had more to do with movement than the amount of orexin.
Add Movement, Shed Weight
However, just because you might not be naturally fidgety doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it. Take a cue from your more active family members or co-workers; get up and move. A 2009 article published in USA Today recommends that people listen to their bodies when the leg-jiggling or hair-twirling starts. Fidgeting is often a sign that the body wants to get up and move. Pace while you talk on the phone; take a walk after you eat lunch; take the stairs instead of the elevator; vacuum something. Every movement, every extra step moves you closer to a leaner, healthier body. Don’t just sit there–go do something!
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