No Stairs? No Problem: Zigzags Are the Fastest Way to Go Up Hills

This article is over 13 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

Short of a flight of stairs or an escalator, the best way to walk up a hill is by zigzagging.

Unlike the debunked reptilian-based fleeing myth, traveling in a zigzagging pattern has proven useful. Marcus Llobera of the University of Washington and T.J. Sluckin of the University of Southampton have conducted a study which proves that zigzagging up or down a hill is the fastest way to traverse the topography.

Marcus Llobera explains:

“There is a point, or critical slope, where it becomes metabolically too costly to go straight ahead, so people move at an angle, cutting into the slope. Eventually they need to go back toward the direction they were originally headed and this creates zigzags.”

The lesson? The fastest way from Point A to Point B isn’t always a straight line.

(Livescience | title image via Keith Bramich and Martin Llobera)


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Author