Monday, June 20, 2005

Those Crazy Nepalese Porters

Nepalese Porters Operate at Pinnacle of Efficiency
Nepalese porters carry seemingly crushing loads with what appears to be little difficulty. Their approach, which uses a head strap known as a namlo to support a basket, contributes to their being the most energy efficient human transporters in the world, a new report indicates.

The researchers weighed randomly selected porters and their loads as they approached the village. On average, male porters carried around 90 percent of their body mass and females lugged loads weighing around 66 percent of their body mass. One ambitious male porter was transporting goods that weighed nearly twice as much as he did.

The researchers then asked eight of the male porters to carry various loads around a track at different speeds while their oxygen consumption was measured. The team reports that the Nepalese men exhibited more economical energy use for all loads than control subjects did. (For comparison, the team collected data from a group of Europeans using standard backpacks.)

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