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An Ode to Swivel Chairs

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson invented the swivel chair? Rumor has it he sat in one while drafting the Declaration of Independence.

Besides being historically important, though, swivel chairs are just plain fun. And they’re good for people when ADHD.

For ADHDers, fidgeting isn’t just another “symptom.” It’s something that helps us concentrate and wakes our brains up.

Swivel ChairsSwivel chairs are great for people with ADHD because they help us get out our fidgety energy in a way that doesn’t prevent us from working. Even less traditional seating options like exercise balls and standing desks can accomplish the same thing.

Of course, sitting still isn’t just the bane of ADHDers. It’s actually the natural enemy of humans everywhere. As you might have heard, sitting too much is turning out to be quite bad for your health – cue dire headlines about sitting being the new smoking.

But here’s what you might not have heard: fidgeting can counteract at least some of the dangers of spending too much time seated.

For example, a 2016 study of 12,778 women found that sitting for seven or more hours a day was associated with a 30 percent greater chance of dying over the course of the study, but only for the women who fidgeted the least. In the most prolific fidgeters, sitting for at least five hours a day was actually associated with a lower chance of dying.

Another study found that when people sit in chairs that promote fidgeting, they end up expending more energy while seated. And it turns out that periodically moving around your legs can counteract some of sitting’s harmful physical effects.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised, then, that swivel chair aficionado Thomas Jefferson lived to the mature age of 83 – not bad for the early nineteenth century!

The takeaway here is pretty clear: if sitting is the new smoking, fidgeting may be the new working out. And those of us with ADHD are just ahead of the curve.

An Ode to Swivel Chairs

Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.

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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2017). An Ode to Swivel Chairs. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 12, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Mar 2017
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