Physiological and perceptual responses of SANDF personnel to varying combinations of marching speed and backpack load

Christie, C.J. (2002) Physiological and perceptual responses of SANDF personnel to varying combinations of marching speed and backpack load. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




The objective of the present study was to establish effective combinations of marching speed and backpack load in order to meet specific military requirements. Thirty infantrymen from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comprised the sample and experimental procedures were conducted in a laboratory setting using a Cybex Trotter treadmill. Sixteen conditions were set up which included combinations of four speeds (3.5, 4.5, 5.5, and 6.5 km.h-1) and four backpack loads (20, 35, 50, and 65kg). Each subject was required to complete 8 of the sixteen conditions, each consisting of a six-minute treadmill march. Physiological data (heart rate, ventilation and metabolic responses), kinematic gait responses (step-rate and stride length) and perceptions of exertion (“Central” and “Local” RPE) were collected during the third and sixth minutes of the treadmill march and areas of body discomfort were identified post-march. Responses revealed five distinct categories of exertional strain. Three marches constituted “nominal” (below 40% VO2 max) and three “excessive” strain (above 75% VO2 max). These represent combinations of extreme military demands and are highly unlikely to be utilised by the military. Three “tolerable” levels of required effort were recommended and these 10 combinations were further divided into three sub-categories. The “moderate” stress marches were identified as “ideal” for prolonged marches and had statistically similar responses of working heart rates (range of 118 bt.min-1 to 127 bt.min-1), energy expenditure (26 kJ.min-1 and 27 kJ.min-1) and ratings of perceived exertion (“Central” ratings of 10 and 11). Thus, marching at 5.5 km.h-1 with 20kg, 4.5 km.h-1 with 35kg or 3.5 km.h-1 with 50kg all require a similar energy cost. Four “heavy” category marches were identified for possible use when the duration of the march is reduced. During these marches responses were statistically similar with heart rates ranging from 127 bt.min-1 to 137 bt.min-1, energy expenditure from 32 kJ.min-1 to 37 kJ.min-1 and “Central” ratings of perceived exertion were 12 and 13. When short, high intensity marches are necessary, then combinations from the “very heavy” category may be utilised but with caution. During these marches, soldiers were taxed between 65% and 75% of VO2 max. The results of this study clearly demonstrate that the interplay between speed and load needs to be adjusted when determining “ideal” combinations for specific military demands. Essentially, if speed is of the essence then load must be reduced, and if heavy loads need to be transported then speed must be reduced.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Marching, Walking, Soldiers
Subjects:T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > Human engineering (Ergonomics)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Human Kinetics & Ergonomics
ID Code:2183
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:08 Nov 2011 09:01
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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