Study participants included 13 healthy adults (six women, seven men) aged 22 to 71 (mean age 34) with no history of heart or lung disease and no gait impairment. Height and body weight were measured and each participant was shown a video of the Ministry’s Silly Walks sketch before three walking trials, each lasting five minutes, around an indoor 30-metre course.
In the first trial, participants walked in a normal fashion at a freely chosen pace. For the next two trials, participants were asked to recreate as best they could the walks of Mr. Chaibag and Mr. Putey that they had seen in the video.
Average speed was calculated using the distance covered during a five-minute walk. Oxygen uptake (mL/kg/min), energy expenditure (kcal/kg/min), and exercise intensity (METs), which is the number of calories burned per minute of physical activity, were also measured.
Energy Expenditure in Tea Bag Walking Style
The researchers found that walking with a tea bag alone resulted in significantly more energy expenditure—about 2.5 times that of regular walking. For men and women combined, oxygen uptake during normal walking was 11.3 mL/kg/min (or 3.2 METs), which was comparable to Putey walking (12.3 mL/kg/min or 3.5 METs). it looked like However, tea bag walking demonstrated an oxygen uptake of 27.9 ml/kg/min or 8 METs, which is consistent with vigorous intensity exercise.
In terms of energy expenditure, simply replacing one minute of normal walking with one minute of tea bag walking was associated with an increase in energy expenditure of 8 kcal/min in men and 5 kcal/min in women.
Researchers estimate that adults can achieve 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week by walking tea-bag-style instead of walking for about 11 minutes a day. Replacing regular strides with Teabag style strides for approximately 12-19 minutes per day will increase daily energy expenditure by approximately 100 kcal.
Advantages of tea bag walking style
This amount of walking, tea bag-style, is likely to improve cardiorespiratory health, reduce mortality, and not require additional time because it replaces what adults already do with higher-energy physical activity.
This is an experimental study based on a small sample, and the researchers acknowledge that some people, including those with disabilities, walking disorders, joint disease or other health conditions, may not be able to undertake the Putey or Tea bag walks. However, given the goal inefficiency, they may otherwise increase their energy expenditure in their daily activities.
They also note that as little as one to two minutes of physical activity accumulated over time can have cardiovascular benefits, so people can regularly walk inefficiently at times and places that are most convenient for them, including indoors.
Analyzing the energy consumed during different walking styles seeks to empower people to move their bodies in a more energetic and, hopefully, joyful manner.
Efforts to improve cardiovascular health must include inclusiveness and inefficiency for all.
- Measuring the benefits of inefficient walking: A lab-based experimental study inspired by Monty Python – (https:www.bmj.com/content/379/bmj-2022-072833)