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Walk or Run: Are We Built To Be Lazy? 189

sciencehabit writes "A quick visit to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks shows just how many ways humans (or at least British comedians) can think of to travel from point A to point B. So why don't we high kick our way to the bus stop or skip to the grocery store? New research suggests that there may be a deep biomechanical reason governing the gaits we choose in different situations. In short, people consistently choose to walk when they need to travel slower than 2 m/s to reach their goal in the given time; when they needed to move about 3 m/s or faster, they ran. But in between—in 'the twilight zone between walking and running'—people tended to mix the two gaits, minimizing their energy expenditure. The findings could help scientists design better prosthetic limbs and even build more human-like robots"
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Walk or Run: Are We Built To Be Lazy?

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  • Fuck Sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek ( 574360 ) <(gterich) (at) (> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:37PM (#42745669) Journal

    It's not called being lazy. It's called SURVIVING on LIMITED RESOURCES, which is what Humans had to do for hundreds of thousands of years before developing the technology to increase food availability.

    Expending the least amount of energy was called SURVIVAL.

    We really have completely lost touch with reality, haven't we? We are living in the idiocracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:39PM (#42745689)

    Consider our ancestors. Would it be a good idea to always rush from point A to point B, risking near constant exhaustion? Predators would find us an easy kill at that point.

    I'd argue that this conservative behavior is evolutionarily driven.

  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani&dal,net> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @09:52PM (#42745821)

    I actually had the opposite reaction. I'm 31, and I constantly fight the urge to run everywhere. I remember all through school, even into early highschool, I'd run everywhere I wanted to go.

    Then it was uncool to run. Then inappropriate. Then unprofessional. A year ago, effectively 15 years after I stopped running everywhere, I started running for exercise. I'm getting back into shape. And I'm finding it annoying that I can't just run all the time - I'll get sweaty or smelly, and that's just socially unacceptable.

    I'm pretty sure we're all meant to run a LOT more than we do - and we've forced ourselves to stop due to social pressure.

  • by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani&dal,net> on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:07PM (#42745943)

    You misunderstand. I'm impatient. Now that I'm actually capable of running a reasonable distance, I get annoyed walking because I could be getting there faster!

  • Re:Fuck Sake (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mister2au ( 1707664 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:08PM (#42745947)

    I think there is a more subtle point to the study ...

    Energy expenditure for walking above 2m/s (7.2kph / 4.5mph) increases quite dramatically and for above 3m/s (10.8kph / 6.8/mph) you physically need to be running.

    In the transition (between 2-3 m/s) it seems to be more economical to access the low energy walking at low speed supplemented by whatever limited running is needed. For example, to average 2.5 m/s (9kph or 5.6mph) it is better walk half of it at 2m/s and run half at 3m/s rather than power-walk or slow-jog at 2.5 m/s consistently.

    Point of the study is that people tend to naturally optimise this ... or conversely i would argue that people are poor at judging speeds and have to increase/decrease to make the time limit - it would be interesting to repeat but give people a pace-indicator and see if people still maintained alternating speeds or changed instead to a steady pace.

    Obviously the title is stupid and really should been focused on how WELL people optimise their energy output not whether people do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 30, 2013 @10:13PM (#42746011)

    Look up "Runner's high". You always want to run because you crave that high again. Bring a change of clothing and learn to take a dry or sponge bath. You won't be sweaty or smelly anymore in social settings.

    There are some credible theories that we evolved and are Born To Run (name of a good book). Research it if you want to know more. Do you want to know more?

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban