Teaching & Learning

Ready, Set … Slow Down


Photo: iStockphoto

Want to go farther faster on your daily jog? It turns out that slowing down might be a better idea in the long run.

A study co-authored by UW zoology professor Karen Steudel PhD’74 found humans have a speed at which they can cover the greatest distance with the least effort. For most people, it’s at the slower end of their possible range, though going too slow is also not the most efficient. Researchers pinpointed this peak efficiency by measuring a small group of experienced runners’ metabolic rates at various speeds on a treadmill.

For men in the study, it was 8.3 miles per hour — about a seven-minute mile; for women, it was 6.5 miles per hour — about a nine-minute mile. This work has another scientific aim, aside from finding an optimal pace: learning more about the mechanics of running may hold clues to how the modern human body form evolved from the stubbier frame of our ancestors.

Published in the Fall 2009 issue


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