Effect of load and speed on the energetic cost of human walking

  • G. J. Bastien
  • P. A. Willems
  • B. Schepens
  • N. C. Heglund
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00421-004-1286-z

Cite this article as:
Bastien, G.J., Willems, P.A., Schepens, B. et al. Eur J Appl Physiol (2005) 94: 76. doi:10.1007/s00421-004-1286-z

Abstract

It is well established that the energy cost per unit distance traveled is minimal at an intermediate walking speed in humans, defining an energetically optimal walking speed. However, little is known about the optimal walking speed while carrying a load. In this work, we studied the effect of speed and load on the energy expenditure of walking. The O2 consumption and CO2 production were measured in ten subjects while standing or walking at different speeds from 0.5 to 1.7 m s−1 with loads from 0 to 75% of their body mass (Mb). The loads were carried in typical trekker’s backpacks with hip support. Our results show that the mass-specific gross metabolic power increases curvilinearly with speed and is directly proportional to the load at any speed. For all loading conditions, the gross metabolic energy cost (J kg−1 m−1) presents a U-shaped curve with a minimum at around 1.3 m s−1. At that optimal speed, a load up to 1/4 Mb seems appropriate for long-distance walks. In addition, the optimal speed for net cost minimization is around 1.06 m s−1 and is independent of load.

Keywords

Altitude Energy cost Load carrying Optimal speed Walking 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. J. Bastien
    • 1
  • P. A. Willems
    • 1
  • B. Schepens
    • 1
  • N. C. Heglund
    • 1
  1. 1.Unité de physiologie et biomécanique de la locomotionUniversité catholique de Louvain Louvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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