FIDGETING could prolong your life because sitting or lying still for too long is bad for your health, doctors have said.

Spending too much time on sedentary activities like watching television or working at a computer can shorten your lifespan and raise your risk of conditions like heart disease and stroke. But breaking up your “sitting time” throughout the day with simple activities like walking or stretching your legs – even for a minute or two at a time – could counteract the harmful effects of being a couch potato and lead to better overall health.

Although doctors still recommend that people get more than 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week to keep healthy, they said less strenuous activities could also be of benefit.

These might include things that do not even feel like exercise such as standing up and bouncing on your heels, wiggling your hips to some music or taking a brief stroll around the house during a television advertisement break.

Dr Wilby Williamson, an NHS expert in sports and exercise medicine, said: “People are watching television for up to four hours a day and spending 60-70 per cent of their time being sedentary, and that is because of our lifestyle and occupations.     –TG

“Reducing our sitting time ... makes us better at breaking sugars and fats down, which can help reduce our risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

He was speaking at the launch of the Fidget project, a national roadshow sponsored by the Wellcome Trust and the London Arts in Health Forum aimed at teaching people to become more healthy.

Studies have shown that the amount of time we spend sitting down is associated with reduced lifespan and a higher incidence of heart disease and stroke.

Dr Williamson said: “The risk factors for cardiovascular disease and longevity start to increase above two hours of television watching per day. If you can make your TV watching or screen time more active that could be beneficial.

“Also, make sure your are not sitting for long chunks of time. Some studies show there is a beneficial effect of breaking it up every 20 to 30 minutes.” TG