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Energy expenditure and physiological performance of Sudanese cane cutters.
  1. C T Davies,
  2. J R Brotherhood,
  3. K J Collins,
  4. C Doré,
  5. F Imms,
  6. J Musgrove,
  7. J S Weiner,
  8. M A Amin,
  9. H M Ismail,
  10. M El Karim,
  11. A H Omer,
  12. M Y Sukkar

    Abstract

    The thermal and exercise tolerances of 165 Sudanese cane cutters were measured in the laboratory and related to work performance and productivity in the cane fields. The results showed that the amount of cane cut per minute in the field was significantly correlated with changes in body weight (r = +0-53) during the third hour of work, aerobic energy expenditure (r = + 0-43), and cardiac frequency during work. These variables in turn were associated with predicted maximal power output (VO2 max) measured in the laboratory. The average energy expenditure during cane cutting was 1-66 +/- 0-33 1/min-1 (34-9 kJ/min-1) which represents approximately 60% of the workers predicted VO2 max. This rate of energy expenditure was sustained in the cane fields for at least three hours without significant pauses for rest. The sweat losses measured in 32 cane cutters during the two and three hours of work averaged 637 +/- 221 and 770 +/- 282 g/h-1 respectively, while the mean urine temperature immediately on cessation of effort was 37-74 +/- 0-46 degrees C. Despite the additional environmental heat load of the tropics, it would seem that cane cutters performing a self-paced task demanding heavy physical effort, are able to sustain work levels well in excess of those recommended for most European factory workers without obvious signs of fatigue or heat stress.

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