A psychologist who specializes in ADHD talks about fidgeting.
Many people who’ve been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) would like to know if fidgeting is a behavior that comes with this collection of symptoms, and in addition to that, they’d like to know if it’s normal. Sometimes they think it’s not normal at all.
For this article I spoke with Dr. Robert Myers, creator of the Total Focus program at Legacy Publishing.
Dr. Myers is a clinical psychologist with 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, families and parents, specializing in children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Dr. Myers explains, “Fidgeting is basically activity to work off excess energy. People who are nervous often fidget when they are worried about something.
“Fidgeting is a symptom often found in kids and adults with ADHD and then it is a symptom of hyperactivity. If it’s not interfering with a person’s ability to do whatever they are doing and it’s not annoying to others, who cares.”
When I was 13, my biology teacher, a nun at the Catholic high school I attended, pointed out that I kept fidgeting in my seat (leg movement).
I told her that it burns more calories. My belief that it burned more calories was one reason I made a point to fidget, though it was also a subconscious habit.
She thought I was nuts and promptly discredited my theory that fidgeting burns more calories.
MANY YEARS later … research was conducted on this very idea, and showed that, indeed, fidgeting contributes to enough extra calories burned to make a difference to someone wanting to be five or even 10 pounds lighter. (Do a search on “fidget diet” and see what comes up!)
And to think that when I was just 13, I was already figuring this. Maybe I had ADHD, maybe I didn’t.
But realize this: Studies support fidgeting as a means of burning more calories, and those who fidget tend to be leaner.
It’s not natural for the human body to be dead still for long periods in a chair. THAT’s when you should worry—when you sit for prolonged periods with little movement.
In fact, a study shows that prolonged sitting with minimal movement increases the risk of blood clots in women!
ADHD is no reason to try to sit dead still, especially if the chair is not comfortable. Having ADHD never means you should attempt to behave like a statue.
If you do a lot of sitting, make a point of fidgeting your legs, even if you have ADHD, because this will lower the risk of developing a blood clot (risk of blood clot goes up with inactivity).
This is why it’s strongly advised that when sitting in an airplane, you regularly move your legs about to prevent a deep vein thrombosis.
As I type this article, my left leg is going. The human body was not meant to sustain long periods of immobility.