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Wearing body armour and backpack loads increase the likelihood of expiratory flow limitation and respiratory muscle fatigue during marching

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The effect of load carriage on pulmonary function was investigated during a treadmill march of increasing intensity. 24 male infantry soldiers marched on six occasions wearing either: no load, 15 kg, 30 kg, 40 kg or 50 kg. Each loaded configuration included body armour which was worn as battle-fit or loose-fit (40 kg only). FVC and FEV1 were reduced by 6% to 15% with load. Maximal mouth pressures were reduced post load carriage by up to 11% (inspiratory) and 17% (expiratory). Increased ventilatory demands associated with increased mass were met by increases in breathing frequency (from 3 to 26 breaths.min-1) with minimal changes to tidal volume. 72% of participants experienced expiratory flow limitation whilst wearing the heaviest load. Loosening the armour had minimal effects on pulmonary function. It was concluded that as mass and exercise intensity are increased, the degree of expiratory flow limitation also increases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1192
Number of pages12
Issue number9
Early online date31 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019


  • Wearing body armour

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Ergonomics on 31.07.2019, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 709 KB, PDF document

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