Fidget Spinners: Do They Actually Have Any Health Benefits?

Susan Patterson
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Fidget Spinners: Do They Actually Have Any Health Benefits?

The dictionary definition of fidget is, ” to move about restlessly, nervously, or impatiently.” If you watch people closely enough, you will notice that everyone fidgets in one form or fashion. Some people pace, some wiggle their toes, some doodle, some twirl their hair, some lick their lips, some jiggle their legs, some tap, some open and close their hands, etc.. Bottom line, we all fidget to one degree or another. We are bodies in motion, and this is true even when we are supposedly sitting still.

Some people fidget so much that they get distracted and can’t focus on tasks at hand. Others fidget so that they can stay focused. When I homeschooled my three daughters, I only had one that could sit still and read – the other two were easily distracted. When I gave them each a small soft pebble to hold in their hand while they read, it was unbelievable to see how much reading they got done. I watched as they turned the soft stone over and over again in their hand while reading.

Recently, a small interesting looking object hit the market called a Fidget Spinner. The idea behind the spinner is similar to my thought about the stone. People fidget, so why not give them something to fidget with – a specific fidget outlet. Those in support of the Fidget Spinner claim that they focus better and can get more done when they “spin.” If Fidget Spinners had been around when my kids were younger, I would have purchased them for sure.

Retailers claim that Fidget Spinners are great for people with ADHD, PTSD and those suffering from stress and anxiety. Although there has been little scientific research done on the Fidget Spinner itself, there is documented evidence as to why fidgeting is good for us.

1. Fidgeting protects arteries

Sitting at a desk all day long is not healthy, no matter how you look at it. Researchers from the University of Missouri studied what types of movements might counteract the impact of being sedentary. What they discovered was that fidgeting helped to combat reduced blood flow and artery function seen when a person is seated. For the study, published in American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology, researchers had eleven healthy people sit for 3 hours. They kept one leg stationary and fidgeted the other for one minute and at a time with four minutes in between.

“There was still some reduction in blood flow in the fidgeting leg, but significantly less than we saw in the stationary leg,” says study author Robert Restaino, a graduate research assistant at the University of Missouri.

So, if you have a desk job and are always fidgeting, flexing your ankles, wiggling your toes or shaking your legs, you are doing your arteries a big favor. Be sure to get up and walk around at least once an hour if you sit all day!

2. Fidgeting burns calories

A little fidget here, a little fidget there, all seems to be good for the waistline. According to a Mayo Clinic study that monitored the movements of 10 obese people and ten lean people. Study results indicate that a little fidget could burn up to 350 more calories a day then would be burned sitting down.

3. It lowers your risk of death

People who are sedentary have an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even early death. The University College London analyzed data from a study of 12,800 UK women and found that there was an increased risk of dying due to sitting for seven or more hours a day in women who were considered low fidgeters. However, the middle and high fidgeters did not face the same risk.

4. Increased focus

Research has shown that small and repetitive movements can increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain in such a way that it helps our ability to focus. Fidgeting with a pen, chewing gum or doodling are all examples of repetitive movement that may help us pay attention. Ronald Rotz and Sandra D. Wright are co-authors of the book Fidget to Focus: Outwit Your Boredom: Sensory Strategies for Living with ADHD. They claim that fidgeting may keep your mind from being taken over with unhealthy or obsessive thoughts, thus allowing you to focus on important tasks that need to be accomplished.

5. Sitting or standing still is unnatural

Movements may be a part of the thinking and expression process. Have you ever given a talk or sang a song while remaining perfectly still? Try it, try to do one of these things. It is likely that you might feel unnatural and have to work very hard to resist the urge to move in some way. Studies have shown that physical movements can help with thinking, writing things down and remembering.

6. Fidgeting might be a habit

We are all creatures of habit and fidgeting may well be a habit for most of us. It is comforting, and that is what the makers of the Fidget Spinner are capitalizing on – its habit forming, comfort forming motion. Familiarity brings great comfort and can increase focus. Motions such as tapping a pen or squeezing a ball are examples of mini-rituals we do to keep our focus and stay calm.

Fidget away

So, no matter whether you sway back and forth, wiggle your fingers or spin a Fidget Spinner, there seems to be no real harm in fidgeting, and it may, in fact, sharpen your cognitive game!

Where To Buy A Fidget Spinner

There are dozens of different styles of Fidget Spinners available from this page on Amazon. Not all are of equal quality so be sure to choose one with a high proportion of positive 4 and 5 star reviews. Below we share four of the best reviewed on Amazon.

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