Jeffrey Cardenas, MD. Dr. Cardenas has no financial relationships with companies related to this material.
Review of: Gaesser G et al, BMJ 2022;379:e072833
Study Type: Laboratory-based experimental study
Brisk walking has numerous physical and mental benefits, but it is not a very expressive form of movement. Dancing, swimming, and exercise-focused games like Wii Fit have a more playful appeal, and the current study pushed that envelope further by testing the health effects of Monty Python’s “silly walks.”
In this small laboratory experiment, researchers from Arizona State University compared the rate of energy expenditure for three walking styles in 13 healthy adults. The subjects performed three five-minute walking trials indoors while wearing a lightweight device to measure metabolism. For the first walking trial, they walked in their usual style at a normal pace. For the second and third trials, they were asked to walk in the style of two characters from Monty Python’s classic skit on silly walks: Mr. Putey and Mr. Teabag (www.youtube.com/watch?v=
Of the two silly walks, only Mr. Teabag’s resulted in greater oxygen uptake and energy expenditure than the subjects’ usual walk. Mr. Teabag, played by John Cleese, raised his leg in the air before lunging it forward during his cartoonish walk. Substituting a normal walk with a Teabag walk for just 10 minutes a day would increase daily energy expenditure by 50–80 kcal. In fact, the Teabag walk meets the threshold for vigorous-intensity exercise, along with running, swimming, and jumping rope.
While we await replication of these promising findings, patients may benefit from creative substitutes for traditional exercise. For depression, a reasonable dose is 45 minutes every other day of moderate-intensity exercise, which includes shooting a basketball, walking briskly, dancing, vacuuming, sweeping, washing windows, and any aerobic activity that raises the heart rate by 10 beats per minute.
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