Science Solves the Riddle of Why We Swing Our Arms While We Walk

Takin' a break from weighty science research like finding a cure for cancer and whatnot, scientists have now solved the riddle of why we swing our arms when walking:

Swinging one's arms comes at a cost. We need muscles to do it, and we need to provide energy in the form of food for those muscles. So what's the advantage?

Little or none, some experts have said, contending that arm-swinging, like our appendix, is an evolutionary relic from when we used to go about on all fours.

But a trio of specialists from the United States and the Netherlands have put the question to rigorous tests.

They built a mechanical model to get an idea of the dynamics of arm-swinging and then recruited 10 volunteers, who were asked to walk with a normal swing, an opposite-to-normal swing, with their arms folded or held by their sides. [...]

Arm-swinging turned out to be a plus, rather than a negative, the investigators found.

For one thing, it is surprisingly, er, "'armless" in energy costs, requiring little torque, or rotational twist, from the shoulder muscles. Holding one's arms as one walks requires 12 percent more metabolic energy, compared with swinging them.


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Related to this: Why do speed skaters hold one arm behind their back as they're doing laps and then bring that arm forward on the last lap, like it contains stored energy or something?
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I had a therapist tell me that depressed people don't swing their arms...something about synapses not firing properly or whatnot (I have no idea, I'm terrible at biology). I actually had to walk around the office for her and now I'm self-conscious about it.

And I thought of the same think Gail Pink. That's one of my favorite episodes, where Elaine gets into a fight with Requel Welch.
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I would also hope that reasonable people would take something as fact if it was based on scientific research and evidence, instead of relying on the visceral or bigoted tendencies, or taking words literally and out of context from some manuscript written hundreds of years ago and making unprovable claims.
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