For many of us, finding the motivation to exercise requires monumental willpower.
And then there are those (infuriatingly) gung-ho few who’ll be out doing laps come rain or shine; finely sculpting their glutes while we rationalise why we shouldn’t be getting off ours…
But don’t feel too bad – a new study may prove we’re not totally culpable for our sloth, suggesting that the drive to hop on the treadmill or swelter through a bikram session may be set before we’re even born.
Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas discovered that mice that voluntarily exercised during pregnancy had babies that were more physically active as adults.
During the experiment, scientists studied genetically identical male mice and controlled the amount of physical activity the mother participated in before pregnancy.
Female mice that “enjoyed running” were selected and then divided into two groups, with only one group being allowed access to running wheels before and during gestation.
The females continued to run throughout their pregnancy (although – no surprise here – as the trimesters ticked over, they moved or walked less than at the onset).
After their babies had been born, the scientists continued to monitor the genetically identical mice that were born and their activity level.
The results revealed that the mice born to the mothers who had access to exercise were 50 percent more physically active than the control group; what’s more, the mice’s increased activity persisted into later adulthood.
All very fascinating, yet what does this mean for us?
Researchers say their findings correlate with smaller studies that have shown similar results in humans.
Lead author Robert A. Waterland, PhD says their findings are consistent with the belief that exercise during pregnancy influences the brain development of the baby, which tends to make the baby more physically active.
“Although most people assume that an individual’s tendency to be physically active is determined by genetics, our results clearly show that the environment can play an important role during fetal development,” explains Waterland.
In other words, the impetus to get off the sofa (should) be even greater when you’re preggers – you could be priming the next football star, after all.
Or at least anything but a couch potato.