Saturday, 24th December 2022

Happy Christmas

At this time of year, the British Medical Journal can be relied on to publish light-hearted but topical articles. This year’s offerings include two such articles looking at exercise:

Study 1

“A Christmas themed physical activity intervention to increase participation in physical activity during Advent: pilot randomised controlled trial”

Trial design

107 inactive adults (who did not meet the UK guidelines for physical activity) aged 18-75 years were included and randomised either to receive an advisory leaflet on December 1st or to receive an email each day of Advent (1-24 December 2021), which contained a Christmas themed physical activity idea to be completed that day. Each physical activity idea was presented in three intensity formats, including Easy Elf (light intensity), Moderate Mrs Claus (moderate intensity), and Strenuous Santa (vigorous intensity).  

The participants used a questionnaire to report their weekly minutes of participation in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity activity levels during the trial period.  Accelerometers (sophisticated pedometers) were used to measure moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity, light intensity physical activity, total physical activity, and sedentary time, and enjoyment of the programme..


On average, the groups reported participation in similar minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity in weeks one and two. At week three, however, the email group was on average performing 20.6 minutes more moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per week than the leaflet group.

Accelerometer data showed that the email group spent about an hour less per day being sedentary than the leaflet group. Overall, 42 (70%) of 60 participants in the email group reported that they liked the intervention


Nagging people to exercise during Advent can increase physical activity and reduce sitting about.


Study 2

“Quantifying the benefits of inefficient walking: Monty Python inspired laboratory based experimental study”

To cut along story short, this was study of the efficiency of different walking styles. Unsurprisingly the Ministry of Silly Walks style used about two and a half times as much energy as normal walking. If we all followed the guidance of the Ministry of Silly Walks we would only need to walk for about 11 minutes a day to satisfy the government recommendations for physical activity.



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