Limit to Human Endurance Set By A New Study Focused On Athletes


A new study has found that people who exercise long enough or take part in events such as Ironman triathlon or ultramarathons regularly push their bodies beyond their limits, and they all reach the same metabolic limit, though. The new research sets the limits to human endurance.

At that point, their bodies can only get rid of calories at 2.5 times their resting metabolic ratio with no need to shatter its own tissues for energy. The team of researchers explained that this might be the limit of physical activity people can maintain for a more extended period.

Maximum limit to long-term strain

A research conducted by Brent Ruby, Ph.D., director of the Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism at the University of Montana noted that athletes participating in an Ironman have an overall energy expenditure of 9.4 times their metabolic ratio. For athletes in a 100-mile ultramarathon, it was 8.5 times their resting metabolic ratio.

However, the new research depicts that the energy expenditure that people can maintain lowers depending on the duration of the event, leveling at approximately 2.5 times the resting metabolic ratio. They imply that this limit is fixed by the capacity of the digestive system to tear down food and assimilate nutrients to power physical activity.

Race now, recover later

The new research concentrated on the amounts of exertion people can maintain on long-term such as 20 weeks or more without losing weight. Athletes participating in shorter endurance events regularly burn more calories during an event than they gain, which creates an energy shortage.

​In Dr. Ruby’s research, athletes participating in the Ironman or ultramarathon lost 2.5 kilograms and 1.5 kilograms of their body weight, by extension. He explained that this isn’t entirely bad, taking into consideration the fact that they burned approximately 9,000 and 16,000 calories while in the race. If people are burning these amounts of calories per race, it is impossible to consume enough food to keep up; however, they can make it up after the race.

New research sets the limit to human endurance

Other factors that can impact the level of exertion that one can maintain is, for instance, getting rid of extra body heat. The new study also observed people participating in arctic trekking. The team did not discover a difference in total energy expenditure in athletes participating in cold or warm environments.

This may be because those kinds of events aren’t held under extremely high temperatures, and if they were, not being capable of eliminating body heat might affect performance and energy expenditure. Also, Dr. Ruby said that to have the complete picture, one should consider the fluid request.

In his research, athletes participating in the 100-mile ultramarathon lost 87 percent of their incipient overall body water. The athletes participating in Dr. Ruby’s research were all non-elite racers. This study shows that getting proper training, nutrition, and mental endurance, many people can compete in these marathons. The research was issued in June the 5th in Science Advances. ​


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