The researchers were most interested in what the students would do when they were allotted travel times between these two extremes. On a treadmill, people have to adjust their pace to match the machine in order to stay on the conveyer belt, but this study would reveal how people manage their gait, or movement pattern, when they can speed up and slow down whenever they want.
The study revealed the existence of a "transition region" between 4.5-6.7 miles per hour (about 2-3 meters per second) when the students tended to make the trip through a mix of walking and running. Regardless of any variablefitness level, height, weight, leg length, the amount of time they were given for the trip, whether they were indoors or outall the students employed a mixture of walking and running when they were moving at speeds within the transition region.
Using data previously recorded by other researchers who measured the typical human energy costs for walking and running at various speeds, Long and Srinivasan calculated that dividing up the trip into spurts of walking and running saved energy.
"Students seemed to naturally break into a run or slow down to a walk to save energy while ensuring that they arrived at their destination on time," Srinivasan observed.
The findings resonated with Leroy Long III, study co-author and doctoral student in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education at Ohio State. As a recreational runner, he always feels less fatigued if he varies his gait at a natural pace. But other researchers have posed different hypotheses as to what physical factors cause people to vary their gait.<
|Contact: Pam Frost Gorder|
Ohio State University