Energetics and mechanics of running men: The influence of body mass

Paolo Taboga, Stefano Lazzer, Rezene Fessehatsion, Fiorenza Agosti, Alessandro Sartorio, Pietro E. Di Prampero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the relationship between mechanical and energy cost of transport and body mass in running humans. Ten severely obese (bodymass ranging from 108.5 to 172.0 kg) and 15 normal-weighted (52.0-89.0 kg) boys and men, aged 16.0-45.8 years, participated in this study. The rate of O2 consumption was measured and the subjects were filmed with four cameras for kinematic analysis, while running on a treadmill at 8 km h-1. Mass specific energy cost (Cr) and external mechanical work (Wext) per unit distance were calculated and expressed in joules per kilogram per meter, efficiency (g) was then calculated as W ext × Cr -1 9 100. Both mass-specific Cr and Wext were found to be independent of body mass (M) (Cr = 0.002 M + 3.729, n = 25, R2 = 0.05; Wext = -0.001 M + 1.963, n = 25, R2 = 0.01). It necessarily follows that the efficiency is also independent of M (g = -0.062 M + 53.3298, n = 25, R2 = 0.05). The results strongly suggest that the elastic tissues of obese subjects can adapt (e.g., thickening) to the increasedmass of the body thusmaintaining their ability to store elastic energy, at least at 8 km h-1 speed, at the same level as the normal-weighted subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4027-4033
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • Energy cost
  • Mechanical work
  • Normal-weighted subjects
  • Obese

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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