Scientists have answered the question of whether there is a limit to human endurance

Scientists have answered the question of whether there is a limit to human endurance

Every physical activity, and every function of the body, requires energy consumption. This process is called metabolism.

If we want a more precise definition, metabolism is the set of biochemical processes that occur in the cells of an organism (animal or plant) through which either energy is stored (anabolism) or energy is released (catabolism).

Our body creates energy through the calories it takes from our external environment and then "burns" this energy to perform all functions, from breathing, to blood circulation, walking, etc. The more intense is this activity, the greater the calorie consumption. For example, running "burns" more calories than simple walking.

For many years, scientists have been concerned with the question of whether there is a biological limit to the endurance of humans. Eventually the answer was given and it is positive, as for the first time scientists found this metabolic limit, which a man (even the best athlete) can not overcome.

In activities that last days, weeks, or months, people can "burn" at least two and a half times more calories than those in a resting phase. This limit concerns the total energy a person can spend when doing a tough physical activity, ranging from marathon run to multi-day mountaineering in Everest or pregnancy. That is, it has nothing to do with the condition of the muscles and lungs, but with how much energy a person can take from the foods and "burn" it.


The research, published in the journal Science Advances, studied a group of athletes, explorers and pregnant women. Head of this study was Deputy Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology, Herman Poncher, of the University of Duke of North Carolina, who stated that "this limit determines the territory of feasibility for humans".

The researchers found that over a period of several months, even athletes who have the best physical condition can consume more than two and a half times more energy than they spend at rest (a metabolism rate of 4,000 calories day for an average person, ie how many calories burns the body in a relaxation phase). Beyond this metabolic limit, the body starts to "eat" its own tissues and all people are beginning to lose weight.

This, of course, does not mean that we can not increase the energy we "burn" for a short time. For example, in a marathon, the athlete can increase his metabolic rate up to 16 times more than when he is in a resting state. However, this can not be continued for longer.

Scientists have calculated that in a 25-hour marathon, the energy consumed by the athlete is nine times higher, seven times more than seven times more in the cycling tour of France five times. However, at a depth of several months, the 2.5: 1 ratio is always the biological endurance limit.



In fact, this limit is slightly above what the female body does during pregnancy when the metabolic rate is 2.2 times higher than usual. Pregnant, we would say that they are the only people who manage to live for months near the limit of metabolism that can withstand the human body. "Pregnancy is the longest and most difficult thing people can do. It is at the same level of human ability as the French Tour, "Pontser said.

As the scientists explain, the 2.5 limit is mainly due to the fact that the human body can not digest, absorb and metabolize enough nutrients to produce calories for an even higher level of "burning" energy. Only for short periods of time is the body able to overcome this limit, but in the longer term it is unable to do the same. For this reason, athletes participating in overweight sports have difficulty maintaining their body weight.

According to the authors of the survey, no human being has so far exceeded the 2.5: 1 limit for a long time. Of course, that does not mean that we can dogmatically exclude that in the future an athlete will be able to succeed, as Poetser admitted. How, rather, when modern athletes rely more on the achievements of science to improve their performance.


Pin It

Search for articles

Follow Us

We use cookies for a better browsing experience. We are GDPR compliant.

Εγγραφείτε & Κερδίστε ένα δώρο έκπληξη!