Inspired by movies like the one below from the Apollo 17 moon mission, scientists in the 1980s spent a fair amount of time figuring out the best way to navigate low-gravity terrain. They compared hopping, skipping, walking, and running on treadmills in earth gravity to the same activities at low gravity. Based on oxygen consumption, it turns out this giddy astronaut is right: if you’re on the moon, hopping is the way to go!
“Previous literature on the effects of low gravity on the mechanics and energetics of human locomotion already dealt with walking, running and skipping. The aim of the present study is to obtain a comprehensive view on that subject by including measurements of human hopping in simulated low gravity, a gait often adopted in many Apollo Missions and documented in NASA footage. Six subjects hopped at different speeds at terrestrial, Martian and Lunar gravity on a treadmill while oxygen consumption and 3D body kinematic were sampled. Results clearly indicate that hopping is too metabolically expensive to be a sustainable locomotion on Earth but, similarly to skipping (and running), its economy greatly (more than x10) increases at lower gravity. On the Moon, the metabolic cost of hopping becomes even lower than that of walking, skipping and running, but the general finding is that gaits with very different economy on Earth share almost the same economy on the Moon. The mechanical reasons for such a decrease in cost are discussed in the paper. The present data, together with previous findings, will allow also to predict the aerobic traverse range/duration of astronauts when getting far from their base station on low gravity planets.”