Previous literature on the effects of low gravity on the mechanics and energetics of human locomotion already dealt with walking, running, and skipping. The aim of the present study is to obtain a comprehensive view on that subject by including measurements of human hopping in simulated low gravity, a gait often adopted in many Apollo Missions and documented in NASA footage. Six subjects hopped at different speeds at terrestrial, Martian, and Lunar gravity on a treadmill while oxygen consumption and 3D body kinematic were sampled. Results clearly indicate that hopping is too metabolically expensive to be a sustainable locomotion on Earth but, similarly to skipping (and running), its economy greatly (more than ×10) increases at lower gravity. On the Moon, the metabolic cost of hopping becomes even lower than that of walking, skipping, and running, but the general finding is that gaits with very different economy on Earth share almost the same economy on the Moon. The mechanical reasons for such a decrease in cost are discussed in the paper. The present data, together with previous findings, will allow also to predict the aerobic traverse range/duration of astronauts when getting far from their base station on low gravity planets.
- low gravity
- cost of transport
- mechanical work
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