Zoology Faculty Work


Maternal Exercise Before and During Pregnancy Does Not Impact Offspring Voluntary Physical Activity or Body Composition in Mice

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Negative Results in BioMedicine

Volume Number


Issue Number





Background - The genome, the environment, and their interactions simultaneously regulate complex traits such as body composition and voluntary exercise levels. One such environmental influence is the maternal milieu (i.e., in utero environment or maternal care). Variability in the maternal environment may directly impact the mother, and simultaneously has the potential to influence the physiology and/or behavior of offspring in utero, post birth, and into adulthood. Here, we utilized a murine model to examine the effects of the maternal environment in regard to voluntary exercise (absence of wheel running, wheel running prior to gestation, and wheel running prior to and throughout gestation) on offspring weight and body composition (% fat tissue and % lean tissue) throughout development (~3 to ~9 weeks of age). Additionally, we examined the effects of ~6 weeks of maternal exercise (prior to and during gestation) on offspring exercise levels at ~9 weeks of age. Results - We observed no substantial effects of maternal exercise on subsequent male or female offspring body composition throughout development, or on the propensity of offspring to engage in voluntary wheel running. At the level of the individual, correlational analyses revealed some statistically significant relationships between maternal and offspring exercise levels, likely reflecting previously known heritability estimates for such traits. Conclusions - The current results conflict with previous findings in human and mouse models demonstrating that maternal exercise has the potential to alter offspring phenotypes. We discuss our negative findings in the context of the timing of the maternal exercise and the level of biological organization of the examined phenotypes within the offspring.



Link Out URL