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Yes, You Really Can Be Born to Run


Bruce Springsteen famously sings, "Baby, we were born to run," of course, in his classic hit "Born to Run". But did you know there's actually some merit to that? A few researchers at Baylor College of Medicine investigated that claim—or more specifically, whether an expecting mother's exercise habits affected her child's own exercise habits later on in life. And their results, ublished in The FASEB Journal, prove he was right! (When is The Boss ever wrong?)

Dr. Robert A. Waterland, associate professor of pediatrics, nutrition, and molecular and human genetics at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital, and his team set out to test the above idea after hearing of a few women who reported that when they exercised more regularly while pregnant, their child was more active as a result. (Are Parents to Blame for Your Bad Workout Habits?)

To test the theorum, Waterland and his team found 50 female mice who liked running (what, you don't know a mouse who likes to run?) and split them in two groups—ones whom could access the beloved mouse wheel during pregnancy and another group who could not. As with expecting human mothers, the distances they ran or walk decreased according to how far along in the pregnancy they were. What the researchers ultimately found was that the mice born to mothers that exercised during pregnancy were about 50 percent more physically active than those born to mothers who did not exercise. What's more, their increased activity persisted into adulthood, suggesting long-term behavioral effects. (Check out 5 Weird Traits You Inherit from Your Parents.)

"Although most people assume that an individual's tendency to be physical active is determined by genetics, our results clearly show that the environment can play an important role during fetal development," Waterland said in the paper.

OK, but can equate the results seen in mice to our human selves? Waterland told us that yes, we probably can. "In both mice and humans, the development of brain systems that integrate sensory information is dependent on sensory input. For example, it has been known for decades that the visual cortex will not develop properly during infancy if the child's eyes are not working properly. This is also true for the auditory cortex (the brain region that processes information from the ears). The idea that input—in this study's case, in the form of physical motion—also helps to guide the brain system that regulates a person's propensity for physical activity is logical," he says.

The TL;DR? It's quite likely that results can translate. Plus, Waterland notes the importance of pregnant women getting in enough exercise—making this study just another reason to get moving, mama. (It's a total myth that exercising while pregnant is bad for you!)


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