Grizzly bears hate treadmills, steep hills and long walks, say scientists

Although many animal species migrate hundreds of miles every year, grizzly bears are famous for long hibernations where they sleep through the winter.

Now, it seems we know why – they're really, really lazy.

Scientists put nine grizzly bears on treadmills and discovered that, like humans, they prefer gentle strolls on flat ground over long walks up hills. In fact, the bears are so lazy as to be 'non-athletic', despite them being adept at sprinting in short bursts.

By measuring the bears' oxygen usage of nine trained captive grizzlies, researchers at Washington State University discovered that bears like to walk at about 1.5 mph, which is about the same speed as humans.

When they were made to walk at an incline or a faster pace, the grizzlies tended to slow down or stop walking.

The bears are well-known for using man-made walking paths. The researchers believe this is because they look for the most efficient, calorie-effective way across the landscape, making it more likely for humans to encounter bears on a hike.

"Our study helps explain why bears would want to use the same types of terrain as us, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see a bear walking on one of 'our' trails," said Anthony Carnahan, one of the lead authors of the research.

The report adds: "Bear participation in the study was voluntary in that no bear was forced to move on the treadmill.

"Whenever a bear stopped walking, turned around or in some way indicated that it did not want to participate on a particular day, it was released from the treadmill and returned to its home pen."

Grizzly bears are capable of chasing animals such as elk across long distances, but generally tend to walk at an 'easy lope' before engaging in a final deadly sprint.

The researchers believe that the bears are trying to conserve their energy, as food sources can be few and far between.

It's unclear how true the experiment is to real-world settings, but one thing's for sure: grizzly bears definitely don't like treadmills.

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