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J Physiol. 1977 Jun;268(2):467--81.

Mechanical work and efficiency in level walking and running.


1. The mechanical power spent to accelerate the limbs relative to the trunk in level walking and running, W(int), has been measured at various ;constant' speeds (3-33 km/hr) with the cinematographic procedure used by Fenn (1930a) at high speeds of running.2. W(int) increases approximately as the square of the speed of walking and running. For a given speed W(int) is greater in walking than in running.3. In walking above 3 km/hr, W(int) is greater than the power spent to accelerate and lift the centre of mass of the body at each step, W(ext) (measured by Cavagna, Thys & Zamboni, 1976b). In running W(int) < W(ext) up to about 20 km/hr, whereas at higher speeds W(int) > W(ext).4. The total work done by the muscles was calculated as W(tot) = W(int) + W(ext). Except that at the highest speeds of walking, the total work done per unit distance W(tot)/km is greater in running than in walking.5. The efficiency of positive work was measured from the ratio W(tot)/Net energy expenditure: this is greater than 0.25 indicating that both in walking and in running the muscles utilize, during shortening, some energy stored during a previous phase of negative work (stretching).6. In walking the efficiency reaches a maximum (0.35-0.40) at intermediate speeds, as may be expected from the properties of the contractile component of muscle. In running the efficiency increases steadily with speed (from 0.45 to 0.70-0.80) suggesting that positive work derives mainly from the passive recoil of muscle elastic elements and to a lesser extent from the active shortening of the contractile machinery. These findings are consistent with the different mechanics of the two exercises.

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