In Tallahassee to help my brother move back into the family home this weekend, I watched my nephew do what 3-year olds do best: fidget.  Felix is not unusually fidgety. If anything, he’s less fidgety than most kids, able to sit for an hour at a restaurant without having to squirm out of his seat to run across the dining room into the kitchen then out the door to do a little dance on the sidewalk.  Not more than once, anyway.  But all kids fidget, and that, apparently, is one of the great secrets to fitness.

According to a Queen’s University study reported here in the NYTimes, scientists who somehow convinced research subjects to strap on things called accelerometers for weeks at a time have confirmed that “incidental physical activity” – aka fidgeting – is “positively associated with cardiorespiratory fitness.”   Put a different way,

tapping your toes → higher VO2 max.

How does that work?! There’s been some breathless speculation among those who want to find non-exercise ways to lose weight about a Mayo Clinic study showing fidgeting can burn up to 350 extra calories a day.  We don’t give a rat’s ass about losing weight in queerfit, but we are interested in things like VO2 max, since that’s a measure of actual fitness.

Maybe I like this theory because I can fidget with the best of ‘em.  Last night at part 1 of the three-part discussion on Bayard Rustin’s I Must Resist – part 2 to be led by queerfitter Holiday, and part 3 by queerfitter Jillian– I was the one in the back of the room pacing , squatting, flipping through books, alphabetizing the bumper stickers, rearranging the scented candles…

The article suggests that fidgeting somehow bumps up our VO2 max.  Maybe.  More likely, if we understand fidgeting as our normal state of being, what’s happening is that our VO2 max is fairly resilient as long as we’re able to fidget away.  Put a stop to that, though, by sitting absolutely still for hours on end, and our VO2 max plummets.  In other words,

sitting stock still in front of your computer or TV  → lower VO2 max.

Understanding the relationship between movement and VO2 max this way highlights the fact that we – both as 3-year olds and as whatever year olds you are now – want to move around.  It is cruel and unusual to ask our bodies ourselves to sit down and sit still for hours on end.  Force it to do that, and our bodies respond by cutting our VO2 max.

So what are you doing staring at your computer reading this?! For the sake of your VO2 max, get up and go get yourself a beer from the fridge.  Do a few squats while drinking it and save your VO2 max from taking a jump off the cliff.