If work is interfering with your plans for a workout today, perhaps you should drum your fingers against your desktop in frustration. Doing so may help, in some small way, to maintain or augment your fitness, at least according to a study published last month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
The study examined the role in physical fitness of “incidental” physical activity, which involves any movements that are not formally exercise. Also called “activities of daily living,” they include walking to the window, bobbing your foot as you sit, pulling weeds in the yard, chopping onions for dinner and similar movements. Once, people accumulated large amounts of this unplanned exertion, since the world contained fewer cars, offices, elevators and takeout options. But levels of incidental physical activity have fallen sharply, and the amount that any one of us completes varies widely, since some people naturally fidget more than others and some have more physically demanding occupations, like nursing or mothering small, caroming children.