Energetics of Load Carrying in Nepalese Porters

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Science  17 Jun 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5729, pp. 1755
DOI: 10.1126/science.1111513

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Nepalese porters routinely carry head-supported loads equal to 100 to 200% of their body weight (Mb) for many days up and down steep mountain footpaths at high altitudes. Previous studies have shown that African women carry head-supported loads of up to 60% of their Mb far more economically than army recruits carrying equivalent loads in backpacks. Here we show that Nepalese porters carry heavier loads even more economically than African women. Female Nepalese porters, for example, carry on average loads that are 10% of their Mb heavier than the maximum loads carried by the African women, yet do so at a 25% smaller metabolic cost.

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