Can Fidgeting Help You Lose Weight: Does It Burn Calories?

Fidgeting has been associated with a problem preventing many people from concentrating. However, others have taken it as an advantage and are using it to support their weight loss journey. But can fidgeting help you lose weight? Moreover, Does it burn calories?

man fidgeting in office

Yes! When you fidget, you engage small muscles throughout your body – in your legs, arms, neck, and core. Each muscle requires a small amount of energy to contract and relax. If you add up all those tiny muscle movements for a day, fidgeting can significantly increase the number of calories you burn.

However, the amount of calories burnt isn’t significant alone. What can you do to improve it? Can you fidget your way to weight loss? Read on to find out.

Does Fidgeting Help You Lose Weight And Burn Calories?

Any time you move your body, you burn calories. Even small movements like tapping your foot or twiddling your thumbs require energy, and your body burns calories to produce that energy. Also read This: Can shaking your belly make you lose weight?

Small muscles get engaged when you fidget – in your legs, arms, neck, and core. Each of them requires a small amount of energy to contract and relax. Considering all those tiny muscle movements in a day, fidgeting can significantly increase the number of calories you burn.

Research into non-exercise activity suggests that fidgeting is a highly effective way to burn calories and lose weight. The Mayo Clinic scientists examined non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, where we burn energy without consciously exercising. 

NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) encompasses how we burn calories beyond structured exercise – standing, shifting positions, and fidgeting. Read Here: The Benefits Of Shaking Your Legs: Does It Help With Weight Loss?

Does fidgeting burn calories? The amount of extra calories you burn from fidgeting depends on factors like your body weight, how much you fidget, and the intensity of your fidgeting movements. But estimates range from 100 to 350 extra calories burned per day from fidgeting.

The more you weigh and the more intensely you fidget, the more calories you burn. Research showed that fidgeters tend to be leaner than overweight individuals due to increased restless energy.

While fidgeting isn’t a replacement for exercise, it can help offset some of the calories you consume on a small daily increase in calorie expenditure, when sustained over time, can lead to weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, adding more fidgeting and non-exercise activity to your day may benefit you.

How Many Calories Can You Burn Fidgetting?

Studies have found that “fidgeters” burn up to 2,000 more calories daily than individuals who sit still for long periods. 

As mentioned above, the amount of calories burned from fidgeting depends on factors like weight, the intensity of your movements, and how much time you spend fidgeting.  Read This: Is It Normal To Feel Itchy When Losing Weight

For a 175-pound person, 10 minutes of slow walking or pacing while performing another activity can burn 20-30 more calories than sitting still.

For an hour (about 2,500 steps) of upright activity instead of sitting, a 175-pound person could burn an extra 100 to 150 calories. If sustained regularly, this slight increase in calorie expenditure can lead to a weight loss of around 1.5 pounds per month. 

The heavier you are, the more calories you’ll burn from fidgeting and non-exercise activity. However, as you lose weight, your metabolism slows, so you may need to gradually increase the amount of fidgeting and movement to continue seeing results.

Can You Fidget Your Way to Weight Loss?

Fidgeting and overall increased physical activity can contribute to weight loss. It’s an advantage natural fidgeters can benefit from.

While consciously attempting to fidget more throughout the day can certainly burn a few extra calories, engaging in purposeful exercise will significantly impact energy expenditure. Here are some benefits of fiddling for weight loss:

  • Increased Calorie Burn

Even marginally increasing non-exercise activity through fidgeting can help burn 50-150 calories daily. Over time, this slight calorie deficit contributes to weight loss. Every bit counts. Fidgeting also increases your baseline metabolic rate, which can aid weight loss.

  • Reduced Sedentary Time

Fidgeting and moving more often helps decrease the time spent sitting or being sedentary, which is linked to health risks. Lower sedentary levels correlate with lower BMI and weight circumference. Fidgeting breaks up long periods of inactivity.

  • Improved Focus and Productivity

Fidgeting and increasing movement help promote better focus, concentration, and mental performance. The movement provides stimuli that can rejuvenate the mind. This improved productivity can support weight loss goals by enhancing motivation and willpower.

  • Preparation for Purposeful Exercise

Fidgeting more often and reducing sedentary time can help prepare your body and mind for higher-intensity exercise over time, which is critical for substantial weight loss. Even light movement through fidgeting activates your muscles.

  • Improved Mood and Sleep Quality

Getting up and moving more frequently through fidgeting and non-exercise activity can help improve mood, reduce fatigue, and promote better sleep at night. Adequate sleep and a positive mindset support a healthy lifestyle that aids weight loss.

What Are The Concerns of Fidgetting for Weight Loss?

Fidgeting and non-exercise activity can help boost daily energy expenditure and contribute to weight loss. However, there are several concerns about fidgeting as a weight loss strategy. Read: Can You Lose Weight When You Are Studying?

  • Limited Energy Expenditure

Fidgeting alone likely only burns an extra 50-100 calories per day. Meaningful weight loss requires deficits of 500-1000 daily calories. So fiddling alone will not create a large enough calorie deficit for substantial weight loss.

  • Unsustainable Behavior Change

Consciously fidgeting all day long may require more work to sustain long term. The behaviors tend to decrease over time, diminishing the calorie-burning effects. It will also be a challenge to stop fidgeting once you start. 

  • Potential for Muscle Strains, Tendinitis, and Increased Stress

Repeating fidgeting movements frequently, especially for those with physical limitations, can increase the risk of muscle strains, tendinitis, and soft tissue injuries. Some individuals may also experience heightened anxiety, restlessness, and fatigue from compulsively fidgeting to burn calories.

  • Failing to Address Underlying Causes

There are many factors that can cause a person to be overweight – including metabolic issues, medications, hormones, sleep, and emotions. Fidgeting alone does little to address these underlying causes.

  • Risk of Rebound Weight Gain

If fidgeting stops, but other behaviors do not change, the lost weight will likely return quickly. Fidgeting is not a sustainable weight loss strategy on its own.

Why Do Some People Fidget And Not Others?

While fidgeting is yet to be determined as a health problem or a condition, it’s not common to everyone. 

  • Genetics Likely Play A Role

Some research suggests a “wiggle gene” may predispose some individuals to be more fidgety and restless. Studies in rats have found that fidgety rats have increased sensitivity to chemicals in the brain linked to physical activity. Genetics, likely, influence a person’s baseline tendency for spontaneous movement.

  • Chemical Differences In The Brain May Be Involved

Fidgety people may have higher neurotransmitters like dopamine that stimulate movement and reduce the ability to sit still. Their brains may be wired in a way that makes staying motionless difficult. Low levels of chemicals that produce a “calming effect” could also contribute.

  • Personality Traits Can Affect Fidgeting Tendencies

People with traits like high neuroticism, anxiety, and impulsivity tend to fidget more often. These personality types make them more prone to restlessness and the inability to sit still for long periods. Conversely, individuals with more relaxed and laidback personalities tend to fidget less.

  • Environmental Factors And Upbringing Likely Play A Role As Well

People raised in fast-paced, stimulating environments may develop a higher need for constant movement and activity. Conversely, those who grew up in calm, structured homes may find sitting still for long periods easier.


Can fidgeting help you lose weight? Does fidgeting burn calories? The short answer is yes! Fidgeting and non-exercise activity can help contribute to weight loss when combined with other lifestyle changes. Genes, environment, and personality can affect how much people fidget. You can achieve your weight loss goals with the right combination of diet, exercise, and fidgeting.

Medical Discalimer: The information provided here On Geeks Health website is for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you have or suspect a medical problem, promptly contact your healthcare provider. Reliance on any information in this response is solely at your own risk.
Vanessa Roberts
Scroll to Top