Do you know how speed affects your body?

New study shows some interesting insights
by Gerard Jude Castillo | Sep 14, 2015

Science of Speed

Many of us are fascinated with speed. There’s a certain rush that one experiences when going fast, be it on a roller coaster or around a racetrack at full tilt. But did you know that velocity actually affects our body as well?

In a test conducted by the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom, it was revealed that driving fast can provoke a dramatic physical response, akin to watching a horror movie or going on a scary ride at a theme park. It’s an adrenaline rush that can contribute to some pretty interesting results.

The study was done at an appropriate test facility--the Goodwood Motor Circuit in England. The team from the University of Portsmouth’s Sport and Exercise Science department worked closely with stunt driver Nikki Faulkner, who did work on Rush and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. The car that they used was the blazingly fast Mini John Cooper Works hatch.

The drivers/test subjects were allowed to put the Mini JCW through its paces around the track. This gave them the chance to feel the sheer power and speed generated by the little car’s 2.0-liter TwinPower turbo motor. This lump allowed it to blast from 0 to 100kph in just 6.3 seconds and reach 231kph. Oh, and let’s not forget the go-kart-like handling that these cars are legendary for.

The result of all this go-fast action is adrenaline sensation like no other. Anxiety levels shot up by 370%, while heart rates were recorded at 181bpm (beats per minute), 100% more than the normal beat of the human ticker. While this may sound dangerous off the bat, experts say that this can actually be good in certain situations.

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All that adrenaline can help improve a driver’s reaction times in order to avoid an accident. Sudden changes in road conditions, a car coming out of nowhere, or other factors that may otherwise cause a mishap might actually be evaded, thanks to the quick reflexes resulting from increased metabolic rates. Think of it as our natural fight-or-flight mechanism.

Thanks to all that speed, the study likewise showed that apart from the maximum heart rate increasing for the driver, passengers also felt faster heart rates, recorded at 153bpm (up by 60%). Front-seat occupants also felt more anxious by some 288%, while reaction times were up by 6% for the driver and 4% for the passenger. If you want to put this into perspective, the maximum heart rate of someone jumping out of a plane is 170bpm; a person riding a roller coaster, 155bpm; and a guy proposing marriage to his girlfriend, 130bpm.

Want the ultimate adrenaline sensation? Go for a fast drive. Needless to say, safety must still always come first.


Science of Speed

Science of Speed

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