Many of us have taken on a challenge - whether it was a marathon or high altitude trek - that has pushed us to what feels like the max of our bodies capabilities. But, where does the true limit of human endurance lie? Recent research done by scientists at Duke University has found the answer...
The scientists studied multiple different endurance-based activities, including the Tour de France, triathlons, arctic trekking and the 140-day transcontinental Race Across the USA, which has athletes running 3,080 miles in 140 days, from California to Washington DC.
They found that the limit of endurance was 2.5 times the body's resting metabolic rate, or 4,000 calories a day for an average person. Anything more than this would be unsustainable.
A pattern between the length of the event and energy expenditure, showed that the longer the event was, the harder it was to burn through calories. So energy use would start off high, but would then level off at 2.5 times the resting metabolic rate. This means that people can go far past this when doing so in a short burst (such as in a marathon), but this is simply unsustainable long term. They also found that pregnant women live at nearly the limit of what the body can cope with – so you could say it's the ultimate endurance test!
So, if you thought running a marathon was the ultimate endurance test, we're sorry to tell you that this isn’t quite the case!
Check out the full study from Science Advances, here.