Skinny Daily Post


A new study out of Mayo Clinic offers us this news: Skinny people tend to fidget. Heavy people tend not to. Skinny people sit less, heavy people sit more.

When I read this, I felt a great, big wholloping “Duh!” coming on. A thinner person might have thrown their laptop across the room, but I’m more of a sedentary type, and limited my movement to just allowing my jaw to drop open. We needed a study to tell us that skinny people move more?

After I calmed down, I read on. The difference in a thinner person’s fidgeting means they burn, on average, 350 more calories per day than I do. That’s a difference of about a pound every 10 days, 36 pounds per year, and the difference between morbid obesity or reasonable health in one person’s lifetime. That’s some powerful fidgeting.

I work hard every day to make up for a 500-800 calorie difference between my own metabolism and one considered average. The average calorie intake for a moderately active adult my age is around 2,000 calories per day. But I can’t take in nearly that amount without gaining weight. Why? I’m an extremely still person by nature. Though I have added a great deal of exercise to my week, I can happily sit and write all day long, burning no more energy than it takes to breathe, digest, and work a keyboard and mouse.

And there are legions of us. People like me who move little, burn less, and so need to be careful about every calorie we take in or risk poor health.

What I love about this study is that it helps to blast apart the notion that every overweight person eats excessively. Many of us may be eating the recommended 2,000 calorie per day diet, or perhaps less than the skinny person in the next seat, but because we burn substantially fewer calories per day, the weight just keeps creeping on. The less active we become, the faster the weight packs on.

The hope behind the study is the message that all activity contributes to weight management.

So how can the fidgetless among us level the playing field? The study suggests it’s not possible for me to change my nature, but with focus and intention, I can change my lifestyle to increase my daily calorie burn. I can exercise more, of course, but I’m also working on adding a few more active daily habits. I have a new timer for working at my computer that reminds me to get up and walk about a bit every hour or so. I can do calisthenics during commercial breaks. I can throw in a few pushups and squats after brushing my teeth. I can take the stairs twice when once will do. I can wear my pedometer and look for ways to pump the numbers up. I can dance.

In the end, the study doesn’t tell us a thing we haven’t guessed already. But it is a reminder to those of us who struggle to maintain a healthy weight — we’ll never be naturally thin. For us, getting and staying fit takes constant focus, mindfulness, dedication. We do have to work at it.

Happy fidgeting to you and yours.

The Mayo Study: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – N.E.A.T.

MB Timer 1.0

13 thoughts on “Fidget, Gidget

  1. Jane says:

    This was a good one juju. I heard on the news about people who fidget weigh less. I used to be naturally thin. I could eat anything I wanted, didn’t really fidget, and I never gained weight. I also walked to school and back everyday. When I got home from school, I jumped into play clothes and played outside for an hour or two. There were no computers back then and only 2 good stations on TV, but not much to watch. I can’t figure out what I’m doing differently. Well, I certainly don’t walk and play for hours everyday. Mmmmmm, maybe that’s the big difference for me. My age isn’t helping either! Since we got a computer in this house, we all started gaining weight. Ok, I put all the blame on the computer!!!
    Jane from PA

  2. Quinn says:

    When is it going to occur to these people, whoever they are, who decide how many calories we should take in every day that their formulas are ALL WRONG!

    Fer pity’s sake! I’ve never, ever been able to ingest 2000kcals a day without substantial exercise. Well, substantial by my standards. There are people in my close family who can, but they NEVER stop moving completely! No, not even when sleeping. (Me? I regularly wake up in the same position in which I fell asleep.)


    Maybe it’s time for us overweight people to stop thinking of all these fidgety-type folks as “normal” and ourselves as “abnormal.”


  3. Katie says:

    Dear Aunt Juju,

    You know those freshmen 15… well marching band completely eliminates those… 2hrs of high kicking, victors playing insanity every day will do that. But once band finished it was back to a completely sedementary life of classes, studying, computer-sizing, TV and Pizza. But the great thing about college campuses- its so easy to get involved. So now M-W-F I do two hours of fencing. I do yoga with one of my band friends on Sunday night and thursday night some of the Clarinets get together and play Wallyball at the rec. building. I should be writing a paper right now. Much love XXXOOO
    Muah, Katie

  4. Nicole says:

    So, if I try to fidgit more in my free time, maybe it’ll help more?

  5. jonquil says:

    Yep. I’m a fidgeter and I’m proud. It hurts to keep still, I get stiff and sore and nervy, so I just have to move. I can’t help it. My teachers complained, but maybe kids– especially girls– shouldn’t be conditioned to “sit still and be quiet.” Life is movement; time enough for stillness when I’m dead.

  6. Mary says:

    HI – Where can I get such a timer online?
    Sounds like a neat idea. I was thinking coffee makes me fidget more – and, decrease my appetite maybe its not such a bad thing afterall? What do you think y’all?

  7. BethK says:

    I’ve always described myself as not so much an over-eater as an ‘under-mover’. I crave stillness and quiet. I also have a sedentary job and now I set my PDA to ping me every hour so I will get up and do at least one lap around the floor I work on. It’s made a big difference.

  8. Denise says:

    I read this week that it takes a little more than fidgeting, one has to actually stand up… oh man!… do I really have to leave the warm glow of the computer screen?

    The first day dh wore a pedometer, he walked 275 steps. Somebody said that he must be wearing it wrong… that it is impossible to walk so little… nope… he walked the length of our house… twice…:)

    Was a wake up call. He’s up to about 2,000-4,000 steps now.

    Going to do some pushups now. Thanks, Juju. I agree. This was a good one!

  9. nneka says:

    Does getting up to go to the bathroom because you are drinking half your weight in ounces count?-)

  10. Cathy says:

    I lead a calm, sedentary life myself, but there was a little snippit in one of the fitness mags a while back that mentioned sitting on a workout ball while working at the computer. The next day I hauled my fitness ball into work, enduring the giggles and questioning looks from co-workers, and now push my office chair to the side every day to plop down on the ball. I’ve really noticed small twinges of soreness in my core muscles, my posture is improving and I also notice that I continually move around a lot more just because…well…you’re sitting on a giant bouncey ball for goodness sake! Who wouldn’t bounce and roll around a little bit? 🙂 Just a suggestion that’s working for me.

  11. Newbie says:


    I just wanted to say that most studies say that the average caloric intake that an adult should get to MAINTAIN their weight is 1200-1500 cals! Much lower than your suggested diet of 2000!!!! I don’t know where that’s from!!!! Other than that, great post 🙂

  12. Shannon says:

    If fidgeting made a difference, I would weigh about 5 pounds. I am constantly moving, always fidgeting and playing with things… unfortunately, it hasn’t really helped.

  13. Jane says:

    Juju – where are you? We miss hearing from you. I’ve been checking everyday for a new article. Hope you are ok.

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