Spontaneous Physical Activity Defends Against Obesity

Catherine M. Kotz, Claudio E. Perez-Leighton, Jennifer A. Teske, Charles J. Billington

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Spontaneous physical activity (SPA) is a physical activity not motivated by a rewarding goal, such as that associated with food-seeking or wheel-running behavior. SPA is often thought of as only "fidgeting," but that is a mischaracterization, since fidgety behavior can be linked to stereotypies in neurodegenerative disease and other movement disorders. Instead, SPA should be thought of as all physical activity behavior that emanates from an unconscious drive for movement.

RECENT FINDINGS: An example of this may be restless behavior, which can include fidgeting and gesticulating, frequent sit-to-stand movement, and more time spent standing and moving. All physical activity burns calories, and as such, SPA could be manipulated as a means to burn calories, and defend against weight gain and reduce excess adiposity. In this review, we discuss human and animal literature on the use of SPA in reducing weight gain, the neuromodulators that could be targeted to this end, and future directions in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-370
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent obesity reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Animal
  • Brain
  • Central nervous system
  • Dynorphin
  • Eating behavior
  • Exercise
  • Food intake
  • Human
  • Locomotion
  • Non-exercise energy expenditure
  • Obesity
  • Optogenetics
  • Orexin
  • Spontaneous physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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