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The influence of weight and of stature on the mechanical efficiency of men


A study was made of the influence of two anthropometrical factors, weight and height, on the oxygen intake, and therefore on the gross mechanical efficiency, of a selected group of 16 men engaged in three tasks. Measurements of heart rate and oxygen intake were made at four levels of work rate in each of the tasks of shovelling, tramming and pedalling a bicycle ergometer. Intra- and inter-individual coefficients of variation were very similar, being between 3 and 8 per cent. Total coefficients of variation were between 5 and 10 per cent for most of the tasks. Evidence was presented that “skill” accounts for differences in mechanical efficiency between individuals in all tasks. In shovelling sand, neither weight nor height had a significant influence on the differences in oxygen consumption between individuals. It was concluded that in walking, cycling at moderate rates, and tramming at high rates, a light man is more mechanically efficient than a heavy man, and a tall man is more mechanically efficient than a short man. The higher heart rates of light individuals compared with heavy individuals when performing similar tasks is discussed in relation to differences in their respective maximum oxygen intakes.

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Williams, C.G., Wyndham, C.H., Morrison, J.F. et al. The influence of weight and of stature on the mechanical efficiency of men. Int. Z. Angew. Physiol. Einschl. Arbeitsphysiol. 23, 107–124 (1966).

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  • Heart Rate
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Oxygen Intake
  • Work Rate
  • Bicycle Ergometer