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Bioenergetic resources and states have been found to influence visual perception, with greater expected energy expenditure being associated with perceptions of greater distances and steeper slopes. Here we tested whether resting metabolic rate (RMR), which can serve as a proxy for the bioenergetic costs of completing physical activity, is positively correlated with perceived distance. We also tested whether temporarily depleting bioenergetic resources through exercise would result in greater perceived distance. Eighty-two members of the public were recruited at a beach in Weston-super-Mare, UK. Half completed moderate exercise and half acted as controls. They then estimated distance to a set point. Results showed that RMR (computed using a recognized equation) was positively correlated with distance perception, meaning that participants requiring greater energy to traverse a set distance perceived the set point as farther away. In addition, those participants who had their bioenergetic resources temporarily depleted through exercise perceived the set distance as greater, compared to controls. There was no interaction effect between RMR and exercise. To our knowledge, these results are the first to show a relationship between metabolic rate and distance perception, and they contribute to the literature on embodied perception.

Original publication




Journal article


Physiol Behav

Publication Date





103 - 106


Bioenergetic costs, Distance perception, Embodied perception, Metabolic rate, Adult, Aged, Basal Metabolism, Distance Perception, Energy Metabolism, Exercise, Fatigue, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Photic Stimulation, Regression Analysis, Sex Factors, Statistics, Nonparametric