Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Knights in Shining Armor Probably Had Terrible BO

DiscoblogBy Valerie RossJuly 21, 2011 7:07 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


A knightly stroll, with treadmill and respiration mask

Medieval knighthood was physically grueling work: Jousting with massive lances. Charging into battle. Jogging on a treadmill in a full suit of armor. You know how it is. It's no surprise that beneath their shining armor, knights shimmered with sweat. Running around in up to 110 pounds

of armor, or even advancing at a stately walk, would take a whole lot of effort. But, a team of scientists wondered, just how exhausting was it? Since the researchers had missed their chance to track exertion on the jousting pitch by several hundred years, they recruited four modern volunteers, historical re-enactors from the Royal Armories

in London. These guys had ample experience wearing armor, making them better proxies for knightly exertion than volunteers who wouldn't know a culet

from a cuirass

. Each man donned a replica 15th-century suit of armor and hopped on a treadmill. As the volunteers walked and ran, the researchers kept tabs on their heart rate, their respiration rate, how much oxygen they used, and how long their strides were. Sure enough, the researchers found

, armor was exhausting. The men used 2.3 times as much energy

to walk while wearing the armor than without it, and 1.9 times as much to run. Being outfitted for battle turned out to be even more tiring than hauling around a backpack of the same weight would've been. As it turns out, covering your legs with enormous, heavy metal plates

makes moving around a lot harder. What we're really wondering is, how many extra lamb joints (or flagons of ale) would you have to consume per day to haul this carapace around? With accurate counts of energy spent wearing armor, one could perhaps gain insight into medieval knights' calorie counts. Image: Askew, Formenti & Minetti, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 2011

2 Free Articles Left

Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Register or Log In