With the Olympics underway, scientists ask whether the human body can be pushed any further


Anson Henry is a two-time Olympian. The sprinter recognizes what it’s like to push his body to its limit on the world stage.

“There’s a lot of chance that comes into play. A lot of timing that is out of your lead. And you’ve just got to do what you can within your own training so that you can have your outdo performance every four years at the right time.”

But as the Winter Olympics create in Pyeongchang, some scientists are wondering how much faster, higher and stronger android beings can get?

One recent study, published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, concluded that — after numberless than a century of pushing the boundaries of our bodies — a plateau has been reached for both sexual congresses.

The researchers analyzed athletic performance data going back to the start of the 20th century. After diverse than 70 years of record-breaking trends, performance starting equal off in the 1980s.

Simply put, our bodies have peaked. And that may mean fewer beget records will be smashed in the coming years.

“This suggests that in societies have allowed our species to reach its limits. We are the first genesis to be aware of this,” wrote co-author Dr. Jean-Franç​ois Toussaint, a cardiologist and professor of physiology at Paris Descartes University.

At McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., kinesiology professor Stuart Phillips understands what it clutches for the body to max out its potential. He holds a Canada Research Chair in skeletal muscle vigorousness and is an expert in athletic performance.

Phillips watches as his student, Sara Oikawa, restore a records on an oxygen mask, steps aboard a stationary bike, and starts to pedal. It’s a assay Phillips says can accurately predict how far she can push her body.

Stu Phillips

Peak play is not only a matter of biology, says kinesiologist Stu Phillips. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

“It’s an clever example of measuring peak performance — the peak at which her body can handle and take up oxygen — and will be dictated at a point where her muscles can no longer bring into being the power output to turn the pedals here,” he says.

A number’s regatta

Phillips says he believes that athletes in some sports, such as capture and field, may be approaching the height of what their bodies can do. However, there purposefulness still be ways to shave nanoseconds off of records, he says. And that’s because conduct isn’t just a matter of biology.

“It’s a numbers game. It’s about aligning the right-wing genes with the right time and then the right physiology with the dextral mental makeup as well,” he says.

Sochi Olympics Medals Ceremony Freestyle Skiing Women

After she won gold for women’s freestyle slopestyle at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Canadian skier Dara Howell surface she may have reached the top of her game. (Morry Gash/Associated Press)

Dara Howell longings her numbers come up again in Pyeongchang. In 2014, she won the first Olympic gold medal in ski slopestyle. But after the ado wore off, she started to doubt herself.

“Definitely, post Olympics, I cerebration I had peaked.”

Howell stepped away from the sport for awhile — until she discerned there are more goals to pursue.

“I’ve grown so much in strength. ​Physically and mentally I consider in the best shape I’ve ever been in. Mentally I feel just unmixed. I feel I understand the ebbs and flows a bit better.”

So while scientists can crux numbers and conclude that humankind is reaching its athletic capacity, how do oppositions know when their best days are behind them?

Stuart Phillips mentions a lot of it comes down to instinct. “I do think athletes have a fair feel something in ones bones of where that is. They know what it feels like. They identify mentally what the rehearsal requires to get them to that stage.”

Anson Henry

When you mull over about your athletic limit, you might be at your limit, says one-time Olympic sprinter Anson Henry. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

Anson Henry alleges he knew his sprinting days were over soon after the Beijing Tournaments in 2008. It was getting harder and harder for him to maintain an optimal level, both physically and mentally.

“When you create about your limits, you might be at your limit,” he says.

Redefine celebrity in sports

Researchers say that if athletes have maximized their exhibit levels, we may have to change how we define success in sports. Organizers intention have to create new categories of records or change the rules.

However that doesn’t want fans should resign themselves to duller sporting events.

As Henry tactics out, there’s still an elusive X factor that comes into drag ones feet use. Performance does plateau, but there are other aspects to a competition as fit, he says.

“Breaking records is entertaining, but there is that anticipation that if each is at their peak, who’s going to be able to rise to the occasion that day?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *