Physiological strain due to load carrying in heavy footwear

  • M. Holewijn
  • R. Hens
  • L. J. A. Wammes


To determine the effects of wearing heavy footwear on physiological responses five male and five female subjects were measured while walking on a treadmill (4, 5.25, and 6.5 km·h−1) with different external loads (barefooted, combat boots, and waist pack). While walking without an external load the oxygen uptake, as a percentage of maximal oxygen uptake (%\(\dot V\)O2max) of the men increased from 25%\(\dot V\)O2max at 4 km·h−1 to 31%\(\dot V\)O2max at 5.25 km·h−1 and to 42%\(\dot V\)O2max at 6.5 km·h−1. The women had a significantly higher oxygen uptake of 30%, 40%, and 55%\(\dot V\)O2max, respectively. In the most strenuous condition, walking at 6.5 km·h−1 with combat boots and waist pack (12 kg), the oxygen uptake for the men and women amounted to 53% and 75%\(\dot V\)O2max, respectively. The heart rate showed a similar response to the oxygen uptake, the women having a heart rate which was 15–40 beats·min−1 higher than that of the men, depending on the experimental condition. The perceived exertion was shown to be greatly dependent on the oxygen uptake. From the results a regression formula was calculated predicting the oxygen uptake depending on the mass of the footwear, walking speed and body mass. It was concluded that the mass of footwear resulted in an increase in the energy expenditure which was a factor 1.9–4.7 times greater than that of a kilogram of body mass, depending on sex and walking speed.

Key words

Energy cost Sex difference Footwear Perceived exertion Regression formula 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Holewijn
    • 1
  • R. Hens
    • 1
  • L. J. A. Wammes
    • 1
  1. 1.TNO Institute for Perception, Thermal Physiology Research GroupDE SoesterbergThe Netherlands

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