July 25, 2007 On Tuesday July 17th the 91st International Four Days Marches start in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Last year two people died during the Marches - with about 43,000 entrants the world’s largest walking event - due to the extreme heat.
Also, ambulances and hospitals in and around Nijmegen could hardly cope with the number of fainting and suffering walkers. This year professor Maria Hopman (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre) starts scientific research on the reactions of the human body to the exertion of walking. She does so by using a special pill, with a chip in it.
The reactions of the human body – of men and women - before, during and after running a marathon or in a triathlon are pretty much analysed and calculated. However, the response of the human body to a multiple day walking event (30-50 K per day) under diverse meteorological conditions has never been accurately determined. This is the conclusion of professor Maria Hopman, connected to the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre. She therefore initiated the plan to start scientific research on the reactions of the human body to the exertion of walking.
During the pilot study, 60 participants of different ages will be followed. Per walking distance 20 participants have been asked and agreed to cooperate with the research team. All physiological data of the 60 volunteers will be followed meticulously and compared to the weather conditions as measured by weather expert Jules Geirnaerdt. “By measuring the body responses in combination with different weather types for several years, a database will be composed which will help us to make the right arrangements for all weather conditions in the future”, says professor Hopman.
Swallowing a chip
The body temperature will be measured during the walking event by means of a chip inserted into a pill. The volunteers will be asked to swallow the chip that will eventually leave the body in a natural way. The chip will send the data to the main computer, which will gather the data of all volunteers. Every day after completing the walk, the dehydration status (dehydration versus water intoxication) of the body will be determined by analysing a small sample of blood that will be taken each day.
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