Preferred walking speed on rough terrain; is it all about energetics? Academic Article uri icon


  • Humans have evolved the ability to walk very efficiently. Further, humans prefer to walk at speeds that approximately minimize their metabolic energy expenditure per unit distance (ie gross cost of transport, COT). This has been found in a variety of population groups and other species. However, these studies were performed on smooth, level ground or on treadmills. We hypothesized that the objective function for walking is more complex than only minimizing the COT. To test this idea, we compared the preferred speeds and the relationships between COT and speed for people walking on both a smooth, level floor and a rough, natural terrain trail. Rough terrain presumably introduces other factors, such as stability, to the objective function. 10 healthy men walked on both a straight, flat, smooth floor and on an outdoor trail strewn with rocks and boulders. In both locations, subjects …

publication date

  • January 1, 2018