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# Walking uphill is hard work

### Transcript

Y: I know this hike is supposed to be one of the easier trails, but I’m exhausted, Don.

D: I’ve been out of breath for the past ten minutes, Yaël. How about we take a break and enjoy the view?

Y: Good idea. Why are we so tired, anyway? We haven’t covered that much distance—I wouldn’t be this tired if we were just walking on level ground, like on a flat road or sidewalk. So what makes walking uphill so much harder?

D: It has to do with gravity. Earth’s gravitational field is always pulling us toward the center of the Earth, and our feet have to exert an equal and opposite force to keep us upright. That’s happening when we’re just standing upright or walking horizontally across a level surface, like walking down a flat street. But when we walk up an incline—along with all the effort we’re exerting to walk forward—we’re also lifting our bodies against gravity. That’s also the reason why walking up stairs is so much harder than walking down stairs—when we go up, we have to work to overcome the force of gravity, while when we go down, the pull of gravity makes it easier for us.

Y: So all the work we’re doing when we’re climbing uphill makes us use more energy, right?

D: Right, which is why we get tired so fast… ten minutes into our hike, for example.

Y: It’s only been ten minutes? We’d better cut our break short and get going, or we’ll be out here until it gets dark.

Earth’s gravitational field is always pulling us toward the center of the Earth, and our feet have to exert an equal and opposite force to keep us upright.

Have you ever been on a hiking trail and surprised yourself how often you need to stop and take breaks? Why are we so tired?

Even when you haven't really covered that much distance—you probably wouldn’t be that tired just walking on level ground, like on a flat road or sidewalk. So what makes walking uphill so much harder?

It has to do with gravity. Earth’s gravitational field is always pulling us toward the center of the Earth, and our feet have to exert an equal and opposite force to keep us upright. That’s happening when we’re just standing upright or walking horizontally across a level surface, like walking down a flat street. But when we walk up an incline—along with all the effort we’re exerting to walk forward—we’re also lifting our bodies against gravity. That’s also the reason why walking up stairs is so much harder than walking down stairs—when we go up, we have to work to overcome the force of gravity, while when we go down, the pull of gravity makes it easier for us.

So all the work we’re doing when we’re climbing uphill makes us use more energy. You might want to plan for breaks accordingly on your next hiking trip.