Differentiated perceptions of exertion and energy cost of young women while carrying loads

Robert J. Robertson, Carl J. Caspersen, Thomas G. Allison, Gary S. Skrinar, R. Anne Abbott, Kenneth F. Metz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Differentiated local ratings of perceived exertion from the legs and central ratings from the chest, and oxygen consumption, were determined during load carriage in seven young women. Subjects walked for 6 min at 3.22, 4.83, 6.44, or 8.05 km·h-1 carrying (1) no load, (2) a load equal to 7.5% of body weight (mean: 4.66 kg) or (3) a load equal to 15% of body weight (mean: 9.32 kg). Thus, each subject underwent 12 separate tests. The external loads were in the form of lead pellets carried in a plastic scuba belt worn around the waist. A differentiation threshold was found at 6.44 km·h-1 for the 0% and 7.5% loads and at 4.83 km·h-1 for the 15% load. At speeds below the threshold, the perception of exertion was similar in the legs, chest and overall. At higher speeds, exertion was perceived to be more intense in the legs than overall and less intense in the chest than overall, suggesting that the local legs signal was the dominant factor in shaping the overall sensation of exertion. The oxygen uptake was greater for the 15% load than for either the 0% or 7.5% loads, but was similar for the 0% and 7.5% loads. Findings suggested a critical weight limit for external loads that could be transported without increasing the metabolic cost beyond that required to move the body weight alone. This limit fell between 7.5% and 15% of the body weight. When oxygen uptake was expressed per kg of total weight transported, there was no loss of metabolic efficiency while carrying loads up to 15% of the body weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-78
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1982


  • Differentiated perceptions of exertion
  • Load carriage
  • Metabolic cost
  • Metabolic efficiency
  • Oxygen uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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