Hyperactivity Can be a Sign of Genius: Get Your Butt Up and Move Around!

Okay, the title of this post tends toward hyperbole, but that’s the point.  I’ve always talked too much, and moved around too much for my own good, at least according to my teachers.  That’s why I tell people I turned a vice into a virtue by becoming a professor, where I get paid to talk too much and walk around a classroom instead of having to sit still all day.

Now comes evidence from Jim Sollisch in today’s Wall Street Journal that I’ve been right to be a bit fidgety all my life:

According to a recent study by the American Cancer Society, the more you sit still, the higher your risk of premature death. Women who sat for more than six hours a day increased their risk of premature death by 37% and men by 18%. Even in healthy people with normal body weights, too much sitting seems to have a negative effect on blood sugar and blood fats. Too much idle time decreases the production of lipoprotein lipase, or LPL, that’s vital to healthy processing of fat. And the scary part is that sitting for long periods of time seems to negate the health benefits of rigorous exercise.

The bottom line: Don’t just sit there—fidget. Bounce a leg. Get up and stand every 15 minutes or so. Take a quick walk around the room.

If only my first-grade teacher had recognized me for the health pioneer that I was. Here’s what she wrote on my report card in the comments section: “Jimmy has to learn to sit still and stay in his seat. He can’t jump up every minute and run around the room.”

Not only does all that tapping and leg crossing and squirming burn off calories, but fidgeting also has a positive effect on brain activity. There are literally hundreds of studies showing that physical movement provides a boost to thinking and problem-solving.

Karen still remarks upon, and occasionally tries to stop me from shaking my crossed leg whenever I have to sit still for very long, whether it’s at church, a lecture or meeting we’re attending, or when someone else is talking too much.  At least I can justify it as enhancing my creativity and productivity, as well as helping to reduce the fat from eating another slice of delicious pie from the Traverse Pie Shop.


P.S.  Mr. Sollisch and I had very similar first-grade teachers, and similar report cards.  Here’s mine from 1968-69: