According to a study published in The BMJ, adults can meet global physical activity targets by walking “inefficiently” for a few minutes each day. 

Despite efforts to increase physical activity in adults, global rates of inactivity have remained unchanged over the past 20 years. 

The study aimed to compare the energy expenditure of low efficiency walking with high efficiency walking.

Researchers used data from 13 healthy adults and had them walk in their usual style, as well as recreate the “silly walks” of Mr Teabag and Mr Putey, as depicted in a Monty Python sketch, for three five-minute trials on an indoor course. 

They found that the Teabag walk resulted in a significantly higher energy expenditure of approximately 2.5 times that of usual walking. This level of energy expenditure would qualify as vigorous intensity exercise. 

The oxygen intake during normal walking was 11.3 mL/kg/min (or 3.2 METs) for men and women combined, which was similar to the Putey walk (12.3 mL/kg/min, or 3.5 METs). The Teabag walk, on the other hand, resulted in an oxygen uptake of 27.9 mL/kg/min, or 8 METs.

The researchers estimate that adults can achieve 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity per week by walking in Teabag style for about 11 minutes per day. 

They also suggest that replacing usual style steps with Teabag style steps for 12-19 minutes per day could increase daily energy expenditure by approximately 100 kcal. 

While the study is based on a small sample and some individuals may not be able to perform the Putey or Teabag walks, the researchers suggest that bursts of inefficient walking, as short as one to two minutes, can still provide cardiovascular benefits.

Photo credit: BBC via YouTube

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