Islamabad - A new study suggests that some healthy fidgeting throughout the day might be the key to surviving a sedentary life.

Just don’t go cancelling your gym membership — even if the study’s findings are true, fidgeting is just one small part of a healthy lifestyle. Like, really small.

You’ve probably heard that sitting down all day is slowly killing you. It’s a real bummer, I know. I’m sitting right now! Everything is terrible. And according to some research, standing all day is bad for you, too. We just can’t win.

Some studies have suggested that regular, brief fitness intervals are the key to making sedentary life less sickening. And hey, it can’t hurt: take a lap every now and then. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook when your backside meets the chair — you can make your sitting active, too.

Wiggle in your chair! Jiggle your feet around! Click pens! Is your neighbour annoyed yet? Who cares, you’re gonna live forever! Obviously I’m being sarcastic here, but my general point stands: There’s no reason to be a lazy lump when you’re sitting down.

The latest pro-fidgeting data, reported Wednesday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, comes from the long-term study of 14,000 women between the ages of 35 and 69, all living in Britain. These women were surveyed on their eating habits, then responded to a follow-up survey asking about health behaviours, chronic disease, physical activity levels and fidgeting. 

The researchers wanted to see whether sedentary lifestyles increased the risk of death in the women surveyed, when all other factors had been accounted for. Surprisingly, the increased mortality was only seen in the group that reported the lowest level of fidgeting.

“While further research is needed, the findings raise questions about whether the negative associations with fidgeting, such as rudeness or lack of concentration, should persist if such simple movements are beneficial for our health,” study co-lead Janet Cade of the University of Leeds said in a statement. 

A survey of just women — and a self-reported survey at that — can’t be taken as evidence that fidgeting will single-handedly save you from a slow desk-death. But this actually isn’t the first study to suggest that fidgeting might be healthful: A 2011 study found that so-called “incidental activity” could improve overall fitness, and an earlier study showed that lean women were more likely to fidget than those who were overweight.  

And even if it doesn’t help your physical health, fidgeting might be good for your mental wellbeing: Many researchers believe that these squirms are humanity’s way of dealing with a transition from super-active lifestyles — think hunting and gathering — to modernity’s relative laziness. Without drumming our fingers and tapping our toes, many of us would have more nervous energy than we could handle.

Taking BP drugs at night may help prevent diabetes

In a surprising new research, experts report that the timing of taking your blood pressure medicine could have a big impact on whether or not you develop type 2 diabetes. Specifically, the Spanish researchers found that taking blood pressure medications at bedtime rather than waiting until morning may cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than half.

People with high blood pressure tend to suffer from a phenomenon called “non-dipping,” in which their blood pressure does not substantially decrease during sleep as it does in healthy people, the researchers said in background information.

In an initial study, the investigators found that “non-dippers” tended to have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with people whose blood pressure decreased normally during sleep. A follow-up clinical trial by the same research group revealed that taking high blood pressure medications right before bed helped lower a person’s sleeping blood pressure, and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

For every 14-point decrease in a person’s average sleeping systolic blood pressure, they experienced a 30 percent reduction in their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, said lead author Dr. Ramon Hermida. Systolic pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading.

“The results from our prospective study indicate lowering asleep blood pressure could indeed be a significant method for reducing the risk of developing [type 2] diabetes,” said Hermida, who’s a professor of medicine at the University of Vigo in Spain.

So, how are these two very different diseases connected? Hormones such as adrenaline and angiotensin play a role in the development of both high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, explained Dr. Zachary Bloomgarden, a clinical professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai Icahn School of Medicine in New York City.

A number of blood pressure medications specifically target angiotensin, a hormone that causes blood vessels to constrict and blood pressure to rise, Bloomgarden said. Angiotensin also contributes to increased glucose (sugar) release from the liver and decreased insulin sensitivity. These factors can lead to type 2 diabetes, he said.

Drugs that target angiotensin include angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), ACE inhibitors and beta blockers. All three classes of medication were associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes when taken at bedtime, the researchers found.

“This could be a very important study, which would influence how we treat high blood pressure in people with diabetes and people at risk for diabetes,” Bloomgarden said. “These are some really interesting observations you can fit together into this idea that something’s particularly going on at night.”

After showing that reduced blood pressure during sleep was associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, the researchers decided to see whether taking an entire daily dose of one or more blood pressure medications at bedtime could drive a person’s type 2 diabetes risk down even more.

The clinical trial involved more than 2,000 people who had high blood pressure but not diabetes. They were randomly assigned to take all their blood pressure medications either first thing in the morning or right before bed. During an average six-year follow up, 171 of the participants developed type 2 diabetes, the study said.

Coffee may not risk irregular heartbeat

New research suggests that drinking coffee doesn’t seem to up the odds of a common type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation.

But these findings don’t necessarily mean coffee drinkers are free and clear. Coffee may trigger other types of irregular heartbeat, the researchers noted. They also suggested that more research should be done confirming that there isn’t a relationship between atrial fibrillation and coffee drinking.

The study included 75,000 people who reported their coffee consumption in 1997. Their average coffee consumption was three cups a day. The researchers followed the participants’ health for the next 12 years. The researchers also reviewed findings from four previous studies that followed nearly 250,000 people for up to 12 years. All studies were done in Sweden or the United States.

The investigators found no link between drinking coffee and atrial fibrillation in any of the studies. That was true even among those with the highest levels of coffee consumption.

“This is the largest prospective study to date on the association between coffee consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. We find no evidence that high consumption of coffee increases the risk of atrial fibrillation,” study author Susanna Larsson said in a journal news release.

Larsson is an associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Atrial fibrillation can significantly increase the risk of stroke, heart failure and death, the researchers said.