News items Do insects help 4Daagse runners to recover

7 July 2022

During the 4Days Marches, which will take place again for the first time since 2019, the Radboudumc is investigating whether walkers will benefit from swallowing ground protein-rich insects. It is known that animal proteins contribute to recovery after exercise, but the researchers want to find out whether proteins from insects can do this just as well.

Running 30, 40 or 50 kilometers for four days is a major drain on the body. Blisters, aches and pains and other physical discomforts are the order of the day. The leg muscles in particular are put under a lot of strain. The Radboudumc has been researching the effects of taking part in the 4Daagse for almost fifteen years and how recovery can be promoted after such strenuous exercise. 

Maria Hopman, Professor of Physiology at the Radboudumc, has been leading the Four Days Marches research for years. She is curious whether proteins obtained from ground insects contribute to recovery after a day of walking. She explains: 'We know that proteins contribute to the recovery of our muscles after exercise. More and more people choose sustainable proteins, but we do not know yet if these are just as good for our muscles. Therefore, we want to investigate whether proteins from insects are just as good as animal proteins. With positive results, insect proteins could eventually be a sustainable form of nutrition.' The participants in this study will be measured every day during the 4Days Marches at the Wedren, in the research room of the Four Days Research, measuring muscle function, muscle strength and muscle damage. 

Walking is healthy, right?

Walking is a healthy exercise and has a preventive effect against obesity and cardiovascular disease, among other things. But four days of such great exertion requires attention to proper recovery, Hopman says. In addition to research into insect proteins, she is therefore working with the De 4Daagse Foundation and caterer Albron to find out what walkers need after a day of exertion. Especially for the 4Daagse participants, a healthy, protein-rich 4Daagse-smoothie will be for sale at the Wedren. 

We would like to know whether 4Daagse participants would rather choose a healthy smoothie or fries with mayonnaise. What are their considerations? By gaining more insight into this we hope to offer marhcers more healthy and recovery-enhancing food in the years to come,' Hopman says. 

Four Days Marches research by Radboudumc

Every year the Radboudumc conducts a large questionnaire survey among walkers of the 4Daagse. More than 12,000 walkers answer questions about exercise, illness and health every year. This year the researchers also asked questions about climate change, heat stress and the measures people take to reduce heat stress.

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