I’ve always been embarrassed by my relentless fidgeting. I play with my beer bottlecaps at bars and endlessly twirl the remote while watching television (this drives my girlfriend crazy). I tap my leg at the dinner table and rap my fingers all day long on my desk. I fold napkins, twirl forks and play with my buttons. It turns out, though, that my behavior has a genetic basis. It also keeps me slender:
Are you the type of person who is constantly fidgeting? If you are there is a chance fidgeting may be in your genes – and the good news is that you are less likely to be fat, according to the new research.
The scientists found a slice of their genome they say accounts for the propensity to shuffle and shift.
The researchers say humans have the same genetic switch shown in the mouse that pre-disposes some to fidgeting. Lead researcher Prof Mathias Treier says those who do fidget are getting valuable daily exercise even without knowing it.
“We’re spending energy by doing that – and this is of course one of the key factors in energy balance,” he says.
“Clearly people who have the more fidgeting phenotype are more protected against diet-induced obesity, for example, than people who are more calm.”
It will be interesting to see how this gene works, and what pathways it affects in the brain. My own unfounded suspicion is that it might up-regulate basal levels of anxiety. In my experience, nervous people are twitchier, and when I get nervous I get really, annoyingly fidgety. I’ve broken two remotes in the last year watching suspenseful movies.