Why Are Humans More Energy-Efficient In Running Than Animals With Four Legs?

Running is a part of life. Ever since we were young, we enjoy running, mainly during the days when we used to play outdoors with our friends. We often spend hours outside our house to play physical games with our neighbors, and most of these games mostly include running. Even the most well-known sports of our time usually consist of running. Furthermore, several other activities involve running, whether it be jogging at the part or sprinting. With this said, we can say that humans are natural runners, and with our two legs, we are capable of traveling through running.

Humans are not the only ones that could run. Several land animals are also capable of running, and most of them run with four legs instead of two. Two legs might seem enough, but with four legs, we might come to think that these animals could run faster than humans. And not only quicker but also more efficient in terms of energy.

Various animals run with four legs, and experts call these animals as a quadruped. Several examples of these animals include urban animals such as dogs, cats, rats, squirrels, and those we can only find in the wild, including lions, elephants, giraffe, zebras, and many others. As the list goes on, we can say that a large number of animals are quadruped, which we may think could run more efficiently than humans. On the other hand, humans are not terrible runners. In contrast to some beliefs, humans are more energy-efficient when running compared to other animals.

In this article, we are going to look into the different factors of how humans are more efficient in terms of energy when running. Furthermore, how do both humans and animals use their legs when running?

Why do humans run more efficiently?

The simple answer as to why humans run more efficiently is that we allow gravity to do a lot more of the work. Every time we go forward, we are putting one foot out and falling forward, which will result in pulling ourselves forward and then repeating the process with the other foot.

On the other hand, when quadrupedal animals run, they need to push their bodies forward with their front and back legs. This method of running has its advantage and disadvantages, and one of its advantages is that it can put more of its total mass into running, wherein they got more sources of speed – allowing them to run faster. With these factors, it is evident that quadruped animals can easily out-sprint a human. However, this extreme speed showcased by these animals can easily lose in terms of distance running. Unlike quadruped animals, humans are the champion of distance-running on earth, mainly because of the way they run is more energy-efficient than the said animals.

Moreover, another factor that helps us run, just a side note, is the fact that our bodies are more resistant to overheating. A good comparison for this is the cheetah. A cheetah can only keep up their vaunted sixty miles per hour sprint speed for a very short distance without overheating or exhausting themselves. It is known that cheetahs are the fastest land animal on the plant. However, their running capabilities are only good for short straight bursts and not long-distance run. This factor is what made us more efficient to cheetahs, as well as other animals, since our ability to have the airflow of our forward motion draw heat away by evaporating sweat off of our bodies. This natural process present in the human body is one of nature’s best heat regulation mechanisms. It also allows for humans to run for hours on end without ceasing, especially when properly trained. We often see this trait from athletes, mainly marathon runners who can run roughly forty-two kilometers or twenty-six miles without stopping.

These are some of the reasons why experts consider humans as more energy-efficient runners compared to animals. Despite having only two legs, we can prove that our running capabilities are more exceptional than other running creatures. Since we are naturally born with this trait, the best thing we can do is to constantly improve our endurance and maximize our energy by staying healthy with regular exercise.