Exercising at an early age may could have a positive impact on the levels of voluntary exercise performed in adulthood, according to a recent study.

A team of researchers from University of California, Riverside (UC Riverside) conducted the research while studying the effects of exercise on mice, per a news release issued by the university.

The study is available online in Physiology and Behavior.

Theodore Garland, Jr, a professor of biology at UC Riverside, and his team performed the study using mice to evaluate the effects of early-age exercise on adult physical activity, body mass, food consumption, and circulating leptin levels, the release explains.

The researchers found that exercising at an early age in mice had positive effects on the amount of exercise performed voluntarily when one reaches adulthood, as well as reduced their body mass.

Garland suggests in the release that these results could have implications for the importance of regular physical education in elementary and middle schools.

“If kids exercise regularly through the school years, then they may be more likely to exercise as adults, which could have far-reaching positive effects on human health and well-being,” he states.

“Modest levels of exercise can perhaps lower body mass without necessarily triggering homeostatic compensatory responses in food intake. If true, and if this relationship exists in humans, then it could prove of value for ultimately determining recommended daily exercise criteria,” he explains in the release.

The release notes that the research team performed their study on male mice, half of which were selectively bred for high voluntary wheel running (high runners), and the rest served as the control. Half of the high runners and half of the control mice were allowed wheel access when they were about 24 days old for a total of 21 days, which got the mice through puberty. The rest of the mice were given no wheel access.

After 3 weeks, the researchers removed the wheels for 7 weeks. Then, the team gave all the mice wheel access for about 2 weeks. They continued to monitor the mice’s cage activity, food consumption, and body mass.

The researchers reportedly found increased adult wheel running on both the high runners and the control lines of mice during the first of the 2 weeks of adult testing. They also found that all mice that had access to early exercise were lighter in weight than those who didn’t exercise.

Garland explains in the release that, in general, performing exercise will make one hungry sooner or later. However, he notes that, for some people, it is possible that performing certain types of exercise for certain durations or at certain moderate levels might not stimulate their appetite much, if at all.

“If we could understand what sorts of exercise these might be, then we might be able to tailor exercise recommendations in a way that would bring the benefits of exercise without the compensatory increases in appetite that usually occur—hence leading to better prospects for weight loss,” he says in the release.

[Source(s): University of California Riverside, EurekAlert]