Energetics of locomotion in African pygmies

  • G. Ferretti
  • G. Atchou
  • B. Grassi
  • C. Marconi
  • P. Cerretelli
Article

DOI: 10.1007/BF00635625

Cite this article as:
Ferretti, G., Atchou, G., Grassi, B. et al. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. (1991) 62: 7. doi:10.1007/BF00635625

Summary

The energy cost of walking (Cw). and running (Cr), and the maximal O2 consumption (VO2max) were determined in a field study on 17 Pygmies (age 24 years, SD 6; height 160 cm, SD 5; body mass 57.2 kg, SD 4.8) living in the region of Bipindi, Cameroon. TheCw varied from 112 ml·kg−1·km−1, SD 25 [velocity (ν), 4 km·h−1] to 143 ml·kg−1·km−1, SD 16 (ν, 7 km·h−1). Optimal walking ν was 5 km·h−1. TheCr was 156 ml·kg−1·km−1, SD 14 (ν, 10 km·h−1) and was constant in the 8–11 km·h−1 speed range. TheVO2max was 33.7 ml·kg−1· min−1, i.e. lower than in other African populations of the same age. TheCr andCw were lower than in taller Caucasian endurance runners. These findings, which challenge the theory of physical similarity as applied to animal locomotion, may depend either on the mechanics of locomotion which in Pygmies may be different from that observed in Caucasians, or on a greater mechanical efficiency in Pygmies than in Caucasians. The lowCr values observed enable Pygmies to reach higher running speeds than would be expected on the basis of theirVO2max.

Key words

Energy cost Ethnic groups Maximal O2 consumption Pygmies Running Walking 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Ferretti
    • 1
  • G. Atchou
    • 2
  • B. Grassi
    • 3
  • C. Marconi
    • 3
  • P. Cerretelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de PhysiologieCentre Médical UniversitaireGenève 4Switzerland
  2. 2.Département des Sciences PhysiologiquesCentre Universitaire des Sciences de la SantéYaoundé, Cameroon
  3. 3.Sezione di FisiologiaI.T.B.A., Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheMilanoItaly

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