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J Appl Physiol., 2005; 98(2): 579-83, PMID: 15649878

Independent metabolic costs of supporting body weight and accelerating body mass during walking

Year: 2005

Grabowski A, Farley CT, Kram R
Dept. of Integrative Physiology, Univ. of Colorado, 354 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0354, USA.


The metabolic cost of walking is determined by many mechanical tasks, but the individual contribution of each task remains unclear. We hypothesized that the force generated to support body weight and the work performed to redirect and accelerate body mass each individually incur a significant metabolic cost during normal walking. To test our hypothesis, we measured changes in metabolic rate in response to combinations of simulated reduced gravity and added loading. We found that reducing body weight by simulating reduced gravity modestly decreased net metabolic rate. By calculating the metabolic cost per Newton of reduced body weight, we deduced that generating force to support body weight comprises approximately 28% of the metabolic cost of normal walking. Similar to previous loading studies, we found that adding both weight and mass increased net metabolic rate in more than direct proportion to load. However, when we added mass alone by using a combination of simulated reduced gravity and added load, net metabolic rate increased about one-half as much as when we added both weight and mass. By calculating the cost per kilogram of added mass, we deduced that the work performed on the center of mass comprises approximately 45% of the metabolic cost of normal walking. Our findings support the hypothesis that force and work each incur a significant metabolic cost. Specifically, the cost of performing work to redirect and accelerate the center of mass is almost twice as great as the cost of generating force to support body weight.

GID: 89; Last update: 16.12.2007