Energy expenditure analysis of wilderness backpacking participants

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Energy balance during multiday remote backpacking has not been sufficiently studied among general populations. Activities such as hiking that are conducted under a fixed energy input or rations and can result in an energy deficit in the body. Continued energy deficit can result in a myriad of medical problems such as injury, muscle cramping, depression, dehydration, and reduced coordination, which can lead to collapse, hypoglycemia, energy electrolyte imbalance and depressed immune function. The purpose of this study is to define the energy expenditure balance among a sample of participants engaging in strenuous outdoor activities. Anthropomorphic, resting metabolic rate and body mass index measurements were taken pre and post course. Course diet logs were taken as well as trip route logs, which included kilometers traveled as well as meters climbed in elevation. Energy expenditure was calculated using distance traveled and climbed and resting metabolic rate. Energy intake was calculated from diet logs. Results suggest that subjects in the study operated in an overall energy surplus but significant differences over the 7-days course were found when comparing energy balance day by day. A repeated measure ANOVA (actual and results) showed significant differences in energy balance over the course of the seven days. Post-hoc analysis suggested energy balance deficits differed significantly between day one and day two, day one and day four, day two and day six, day three and day four, day three and day six, and day four and day six. Many variables could have contributed to deficits on these days such as human factors, stress, event timing and increased energy expenditure. Understanding the pattern of energy deficits may help prepare those planning to engage in strenuous outdoor activities as well as inform organization that lead such activities.




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