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Is the Silly Walk Workout the Latest Health Craze?

The British Medical Journal’s yearly satirical Christmas edition had a unique addition – a study straight from Mr. Teabags and the Ministry of Silly Walks. It’s called the Silly Walk Workout, and it’s here to make you laugh and get you in shape.

What is a Silly Walk?

If you weren’t around in the 1970s, the “Ministry of Silly Walks” is a sketch from the comedy troupe Monty Python’s TV show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Parodying the British government, it tells the story of Mr. Teabags, a worker at the fictional Ministry of Silly Walks, who helps the grant-seeking Mr. Putey develop a new walking style. If the sketch sounds ridiculous, that’s because it is.

The sketch quickly turned into a cultural phenomenon and has prevailed as a British comedic masterpiece. It has inspired dance troupes, merchandise, and even a video game voiced by Mr. Teabags himself, John Cleese. And now, there’s a Silly Walk Workout.

The Silly Study

Three intrepid researchers from Arizona State University, Kansas State University, and the University of Virginia sought to investigate the physicality of a silly walk, and what they found was surprising. To gather the necessary data, they joined various participants in donning devices that monitored their oxygen intake, energy expenditure, and cardiovascular rates. Then, the thirteen healthy adults ranging in age from 22 to 71 each tested out both Mr. Teabags’ and Mr. Putey’s walks.

A video of a researcher doing a silly walk alongside John Cleese as Mr. Teabags.

The sillier the walk, the study proves, the greater the cardiovascular effect of the workout – and just like in the sketch, Mr. Teabags’ workout is so much sillier (and more taxing) than Mr. Putey’s.

Have a Serious Workout!

The main goal of the silly walk, researcher Siddhartha Angadi tells UVA Today News, is inefficiency – both for comedic effect and for cardiovascular impact. Mr. Teabags’ walk is two and a half times more inefficient than a normal gait, Angadi says, meaning that a lot of gyrations, skips, hops, kicks, knee-highs, and squats can lead to a great workout. It’s so intense that it actually qualifies as “vigorous exercise,” meaning that 11 minutes a day of walking like Mr. Teabags can meet your entire daily recommendation for physical activity.

If you’re not one to look silly at the gym, on the street, or on your treadmill at home, there are a few serious things you can learn from the physicality of the silly walk. Jumping, twisting, and hopping are all highly calorie-burning exercises, and jumping rope or bouncing on a treadmill is a less silly alternative to walking. There are also squats, high-kicks, and other parts of the silly walk you can integrate into a less comical routine if you so desire. But if nothing’s stopping you from walking a silly walk for eleven minutes a day, give it a whirl – your heart and mind will thank you in more ways than one.

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