Scientists have not only shown that there is a limitation on human endurance, but they have also even been able to put a number on it.
Limited human endurance found in science
Scientists have finally raised the question of whether there is a limitation on human endurance and can even be assigned value to the ceiling.
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A new BBC report News explains the work of scientists to study some of the most extreme athletes in the world to determine what, if any, it restricts human endurance and reveals that they have actually concluded that there is an ultimate limit to what the human body can do.
A study by Duke University scientists looked at athletes who competed in the 140-day 3,080 miles across the US and looked at the effect that the event had on their bodies. Scientists measure the metabolic rate of sleep (RMR) or the number of calories the body burns while not active, both before and during the race, and also measures the number of calories burned during the event.
The study, published in Progress in science, found that burned calories began very long before falling over time and to level about 2.5 times the RMR of the competitor.
"You can do really intense things in a few days," said Herman Ponser for Duke University BBC News, "but if you want to take longer then you need to call it back."
For example, running a marathon, just over 26 miles away, uses 15.6 times more calories than it was burned from the racer's RMR, but such events usually last only one day. The longer the time frame, the closer it is to 2.5 times the RMR you receive. During the 23-day Tour de France, for example, cyclists burned calories at 4.9 times their RMR, and the 95-day route through Antarctica had participants burning calories 3.5 times more than their PMR.
Basically, the longer the body is called to execute, the closer you close in 2.5 times the RMR.
"Each point of data, for each event, is mapped onto this beautiful, clear barrier to human endurance," said Poncer. "No one we know ever pushed it."
What makes 2.5 times the RMR hard limit can be related to the way the human body digests nutrients and converts food into energy. The researchers found that the human body simply could not digest and process enough food to generate more than 2.5 times the RMR in a caloric long-term dose. The body can use other energy stores initially, giving the initial calorie outburst, but after burning all the fat and excess muscles in the body, everything that remains is a caloric intake, which ultimately is the limit of what a human body can done, energy-wise.