The physiological cost of carrying light and heavy loads

  • W. S. Myles
  • P. L. Saunders


Nine subjects walked on a treadmill with load weights equal to 10% and 40% of body weight carried on the back. Although the speed of the treadmill was selected so that the measured oxygen consumption (VO2) was the same for both load conditions, the heavier load placed an extra strain on the cardiopulmonary system and was perceived by all subjects as harder work than the lighter load. When the subjects worked at their own pace, walking on a level road or climbing stairs with load weights equal to 10% and 40% of body weight, they compensated for the heavier load by decreasing walking speed or climbing rate. Although the energy costs calculated from walking speed, body and load weight for self-paced walking and the external work of stair climbing were the same for both load conditions, the heavier load was again perceived as harder work. These findings are discussed as they relate to the definition of acceptable load weights.

Key words

Load-carrying Energy expenditure Self-paced work Perceived exertion 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. S. Myles
    • 1
  • P. L. Saunders
    • 1
  1. 1.Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental MedicineDownsviewCanada

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