How A 'Silly Walk' Can Help You Burn More Calories

Although the World Health Organization recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, one out of four people doesn't reach this goal. A 2022 study in BMJ proposed a solution to this issue — the "practice of effort maximization in physical activity." The researchers turned to a Monty Python skit from the 1970s to see if "silly walks" can help people reach their exercise requirements. The researchers recruited 13 people for the study, asking them to complete three five-minute walks while measuring their VO2 and how much energy they exerted. The first walk was their normal gait, the second walk was to mimic Mr. Putey's gait from the skit, and the third was to model Mr. Teabag's.

The results showed that Mr. Teabag's inefficient walking style had 2.5 times higher energy expenditure than the participants' normal gait. They also had 2.3 times higher VO2, classifying it as a vigorous activity. The researchers concluded that walking Mr. Teabag-style for 12-19 minutes a day can burn an extra 100 calories. You can also get in your 75 vigorous minutes each week by walking 11 minutes a day in this fashion.

Should I adopt Mr. Teabag's walking style?

One thing to note about this study is that BMJ publishes a humorous (though science-based) edition each Christmas, according to a press release about the study. The lead author, Glenn Gaesser, said he conducted the study when the pandemic halted much of his research. Gaesser said he didn't anticipate this to be taken seriously. However, the study notes one side effect of the "silly walk" — smiles and laughter. "Whether smiles and laughter observed during inefficient walking are due to a walker's high is an important question that remains to be investigated," the study said.

Although an inefficient walk like the "silly walk" might burn more calories, walking with different leg and foot positions can put your back or pelvis out of alignment (via Bustle). Any imbalances in your stride can add up throughout the day and may cause eventual injury. However, only 11 minutes of a "silly walk" might still be fun.